chrome ball interview #65: natas kaupas

chops and natas sit down for conversation. 

Alright Natas, so legend has it that you’d never even picked up a Thrasher magazine until you were on the cover. Do you think your unfamiliarity with skate “culture” was perhaps your biggest strength? Having your own point of view and ideas regarding skateboarding versus buying into the status quo?

It definitely could’ve.

I had seen skate magazines before but I never actually owned them. I wasn’t honestly huge into reading that stuff. A lot of it just didn’t really translate to me. We already had a different kind of take on skateboarding where I was from. The whole “jock vs. skaters” thing that seemed to be the talk in every magazine, we didn’t really have that in Santa Monica. Everyone kinda mixed together doing different things.

So in that respect, I always felt a bit different from what was going on in skating. I’m sure it changed my approach from how other people were doing but not too many people were skating anyway.

It’s funny because that’s my first skate photo ever and it's on that cover.

I remember people claiming that photo to be the product of some sort of trick photography but it seems to be a move that obviously comes from your surfing roots. Did you consider yourself more of a surfer back then?

It was more just “whatever”. Just being a kid, ya know? BMX, surfing… anything. We used to ski a lot and we all took diving and gymnastics classes. It was kinda just everything. Just being a kid having fun and whatever happened, happened.

There was an older crew around that was sponsored. Not those Dogtown guys that everybody has heard about but the next generation of younger guys after them. I’d see them out skating ramps and pools, they were really good. They were older than I was so I’d always be checking out what they were doing. There was a bit of playing around with fastplant wallrides back then. Looking back on it, it guess it was pretty localized. But that’s where the wallride stuff came from. 

When was the first time you saw someone ollie? Did you take to it pretty quickly?

Yeah, it was more like rumors at first. It was the one of the those guys from that same older crew, this local kid named Dan McClure. That’s where I first saw it. It’s funny because he really wasn’t that good at it but he could make it up a curb most of the time so it seemed really impressive. I just thought it was crazy.

I went at it obsessively. I remember working my way up the stairs at my parents’ house. Ollieing up on to the first step at first, getting that down and then trying to ollie up to the second stair.

But once I got the general thing of it, it kinda stuck with me.

So I know you famously got hooked up with Santa Monica Airlines after hitting up Skip behind his surf shop. Were you starting to take skateboarding more seriously at this point as a potential career option or were you still just basically screwing around as a kid?

Screwing around, for sure. Free boards was good enough for me. There was nothing beyond that.

Skip was sanding at this surfboard factory and also making skateboards by-hand on the side. He watched me skate one day and we were linked up from there. He started making me boards. 

I asked TG this same thing but when did you start realizing that what you were doing on everyday terrain outside of the parks was important enough for you to keep doing it? When did you realize the vast untapped possibilities of an urban landscape?

I wasn’t necessarily “anti-park”, its just that most of the parks had closed down. I didn’t have a driver’s license until I was 18 so I just skated in front of my house. That was fun enough for me. Upland was the nearest park but it was an hour trek. Del Mar was 2 hours away. It was an all-day excursion for me just to go to a park so I skated schools instead. Places like Paul Revere and Kenner… just places around my house. Those places were fun. 

So you basically just did all this street stuff out of necessity mainly… with a little bit of convenience sprinkled in there, too?

I guess so (laughs). The whole drive in me that wanted to go skate mixed with some convenience, sure.

Would you ever get shit from fellow skaters, telling you to stop wasting your time in the streets?

Not really. There were a couple funny rumblings when the first Santa Cruz video came out. People calling me “beach skater” and things like that. So funny.

But for the most part, it was a pretty small skate community back then. We’d just go around and skate whatever. If there was a pool, we’d skate the pool. If there was a ramp, we’d skate that. There just weren’t that many parks anymore at that time.

So how did you meet Mark Gonzales? What were you’re first impressions? Was it clear pretty early on that you two shared similar sensibilities and vision when it came to skating?

Yeah, we met at a friend of ours’ house, Brandon Murdoch. He had a little quarterpipe in his backyard. 

I remember us skating that first and going out street skating from there. It’s funny because we were both kinda working on the same sort of things. There weren’t a lot of people doing street stuff like that so it was pretty unusual to see. It was really neat because we had these little differences already with the things we were trying. Like if I was trying to do something frontside, he’d also had the same idea but was trying to work on it backside. A lot of fun. We started hanging out from then on…

Is it fair to say that you and Mark were basically in your own little world back then? You said that not too many people were skating the same way you guys were at the time, was it common for you guys to often go out skating with other pros and they end up sitting down to watch?

That did happen. But there were other times where I’d go out skating with someone like Christian Hosoi, he was usually around the neighborhood. We’d go skate and he’d be doing all these different street tricks but you’d get the sense that it was kinda funny for him to be doing this stuff. Like he was just playing around with these curb tricks.

It seemed like more of a novelty to him?

Yeah, but the difference was that I’d keep doing this stuff and working on new things. Mark, too. It was fun because Mark would come around every few weeks and we’d get to see where all of these tricks we’d been trying had evolved to. But it’s not like we were thinking about wood-shedding back then. We just happened to be working on all these different things. The focus was just about having fun. 
So it wasn’t like you guys were skating everyday together back then. It was more about getting together every few weeks to check things out?

Yeah, it was more like every few weeks that we’d meet up and have these long missions together. Skating pretty much 24-hours-a-day for a few days and then going off on our own again.

Was there a sense of friendly competition ever or more of a camaraderie in exploring this new thing? And did you guys have any idea that what you were doing would later be seen with such significance?

I didn’t see it as any type of important thing and I doubt he did, either. I actually think it was the opposite: We can keep doing this on our own and nobody’s gonna care. It can be just for our own enjoyment. I think that was more of the motivation.

Some of the stuff was almost like a joke. Like, “Can you backside ollie to tail on a bench, landing in the rocket stance?”

“Let me try.”

A lot of it was that kinda thing. We never had the sense that we’d be seeing this in magazines or anything like that one day. It was more about if we could do it or not. We knew if people were watching, they’d try different stuff with it, I guess. But we didn’t really care. It was a pretty private party. 

This is kind of an abstract question but regarding concepts and inspirations for new tricks, would they normally come about while you were out skating? Or maybe somewhere off your board, like in the shower or something? I have to imagine some might have even been invented while trying another trick but there are some things that had to be premeditated… like climbing up trees and stuff. Are there any stories that stand out for you that involve inventing a trick? Or perhaps evolving an existing one in a new direction?

I think Mark was a little more clued in with what Rodney was doing with all the freestyle stuff. I was more inspired literally by rumors. Things that I’d heard about people doing.

Like I remember hearing about Caballerials. Steve was doing them at the Marina contest and they sounded so crazy to me. I think it actually sounded crazier than it looked. But I’d heard how he goes up backwards and does a 360 and lands back. It’s just crazy. 

But I start trying to picture what that looks like in my head and eventually start doing them off curbs. It’s a fun trick so I start taking them to ramps and off walls. But with the spinning, it just seemed easier for me to start doing it frontside instead. That’s how frontside 360 ollies came about. I was already spinning blindways, why start off backwards? I’ll just go forwards.

It all evolves from different motions and thoughts, I guess. A lot of times, it was just things that looked good on vert and taking them to street, like lipslides and long railslides. Using the curb like it was coping. And then there was also things like getting certain tricks to be a little more functional... like getting kickflips moving and doing them out of curb cuts. Trying to do existing tricks in a better way.

Amazing. Have to ask... that Street Sheet spread Brittain shot of you and Gonz dressed in the 70’s gear. So incredible... but what were you guys doing there? Just wilding out and having fun? Who’s idea was it for the shoot?

I was just thinking about that the other day. It’s funny that’s those pictures are still around.

We were supposed to meet Grant for a photo shoot but I had a tweaked ankle and Mark had tweaked his back somehow. He shows up to my house in a back brace. We really aren’t able to skate but we wanted to keep the photo shoot with Grant so we decided to turn it into a fashion shoot. That was the idea. (laughs)

We went to a thrift store and started stockpiling all this stuff. Grant shows up thinking he’s gonna be taking skate photos and we come out wearing all this stuff.

“We’re ready for the photo shoot.”

So funny. We start doing all these poses and everything. It all came from the fact that we couldn’t skate. The photos are actually in color but I think it ran in black and white. I have the duplicate slides somewhere. They’re hilarious. 

How did you get involved as a SMA rider in the Wheels of Fire project? Who’d you work with on that one and how did you go about filming it? What was that… 3 days of filming?

Yeah, that first one was two or three days. It was filmed by Scott Dietrich, who had done a bunch of surfing movies. He filmed all that on 16mm so that’s real film we’re working with there. He had a lot of decent gear… well, maybe it wasn’t all that decent but he had a lot of ideas of how he wanted to do everything. Like the slow-motion stuff and those effects we had, the scratchy stuff and the weird trails. All of that was actually scratched onto the film.

Stan Brakhage-style.

But the whole thing was pretty low-key. I just took him to all the normal spots that I was skating around Venice and Santa Monica and shot everything in a couple days. I didn’t really know what was going to become of it but I trusted him. He knew what he wanted to do so I went with it.

Some of the stuff did get edited a little wonky but it was definitely early days. He’d have some guy following behind me with a camera while on a BMX bike. Filming me that way. There was one point where he actually had his camera mounted on a remote-control car that would follow me around. That was a little weird. But he had a really good crew that he was working with. Everyone was just figuring out the filming thing.

But I think shooting on film definitely changes a lot of things as well.


Having to send it out to get processed. Editing on a rig. The whole process. You can imagine how different that was.  

Were there any Santa Cruz heads that were bummed about a street kid on SMA getting a full part?

I heard rumors. Some of the guys might not have been all that happy.  

You were the break-out star of that video… the street guy over all those vert guys. You had to have been a little surprise with the reaction it got?

I think what made that “break-out” part even weirder was that I was on tour in Japan at the time when the video came out. Rob Roskopp and Christian Hosoi were the main guys on the tour. They were the guys on all the posters and banners. Kendall and I were basically there for a free trip to Tokyo. We were kinda like the “B” team.

But we’re showing up at all these different places and kids want to see me skate all of a sudden. Instead of watching the vert guys, they want me to go out and skate the flat bottom of the ramp, doing manual tricks and stuff. They don’t really seem to care about the guys skating the actual ramp.  And it was really pronounced, too.

It made for this really crazy time because here we are in Japan and the guys are starting to feel I’m ruining the demos. It became this big thing.

Do you think you were ready for that type of fame back then? Overnight adulation and infinite ollie inquiries had to grind on you.

Yeah, but I wish I had been more mature about it, too. I was pretty young but I definitely could’ve taken more advantage of the opportunities I had and the people I met.

The thing was that I started skating in order to not be around people. It wasn’t really a social activity for me when, all of a sudden, it becomes the center of things. But I was always trying to hide out, in a way. I just used it to travel and skate different spots. 

As tired of an issue it is, I always wondered what your Mom would say about all the controversy surrounding your name? I mean as nuts as it made you, I have to imagine it really getting to her. What would she say when local high schools were banning your products?

All of the Los Angeles Unified School District banned my stuff.

But surprisingly, it never really got to her. She actually thought it was really funny. I don’t know if she ever thought about the ramifications on me but she just thought it was ridiculous.

She had immigrated here from Lithuania. English was like her third language at that point. She just thought the whole thing was silly. 

Your parts in Streets on Fire. Was there more pressure involved this time? Did you like “acting” with Jason?

No, the acting was terrible. (laughs)

There really wasn’t any serious pressure on that part but there was the feeling that I couldn’t just go out there and do the same things. I remember there are a few tricks in there that are basically step-by-step a little harder, just because. I’d do a hurricane instead of a railslide. A one-foot into something instead a regular ollie into it. I just felt that it couldn’t be the same thing again. Kickflip or backside 180 instead of a straight ollie. That sort of thing. It was a bit of a conscious thing because I felt like with those videos that I was, in a sense, the only game in town. So there was pressure to progress things a little more.

I did get to travel more for it. It seemed like they believed in it more so I got to go to a few more places, like San Francisco and all that.

Who’s idea was it for you to skate to Firehose? I know the soundtrack was very SST-heavy.

They gave us a list of songs to choose from. It was already widdled down a bit and that was the best of the bunch so I chose that one.

You know I gotta ask about the hydrant spin. Is it true that this was the only time you ever did it and that you didn’t even really care for it all that much?

Yeah, I think that’s the only time I ever rode out of it.

It’s not that I didn’t like it. It was honestly just a way to kill time. A friend of mine cut hair at his shop there: Paper, Rock, Scissors. It’s still there in Venice, right up from the Pavillion. But to kill time while someone was getting their hair cut or whatever, we’d just spin around on that thing. Julien Stranger and Jesse Martinez would be out there, too. It was more just to see how many times you could spin around on it. It wasn’t like a trick.

When Scott Dietrich and his crew came up for Streets on Fire, they asked me about spinning around on the hydrant. I wasn’t sure how they even heard about it but I had to tell him that we hadn’t yet figured out a way to roll away from it yet. But they wanted it so I tried it. We burned a lot of film trying to figure out how to get off of it. You can see where I had to kinda grab the pole to slow myself down and gain a bit of leverage. That was the only way off of it. I didn’t want to do any weird, slow spins or something. I wanted it to be a nice, flowing trick.

I had no idea that it was gonna be so big. I would’ve never guessed that one day it would be in Tony Hawk’s video game and all these guys would know me only from that one move.


You had really expanded the team in your last few remaining years there… why the decision to leave Santa Monica Airlines? Had it just run it’s course for you? What were you trying to do with 101 that you feel couldn’t do with Santa Monica Airlines? Was it a censorship issue with Novak maybe?

A little bit of it was a financial thing. The money was getting chopped up strangely back then. It had nothing to do with the creative stuff… They were pretty good about that. They already had Jim Phillips and an amazing art crew there.

The thing was that Santa Monica Airlines was never going to be “mine”. It was always going to be Skip’s company. And I’m not saying that in a power struggle kind of way, it’s just that 101 was an option to do something with a totally clean slate. It just seemed better at the time.

I’ve made no bones that 101 is my all-time favorite company. The ads, the videos, the riders… forget it. Let’s first talk about the art direction of the brand that involved just about everything from shock-and-spoof to some of the most artful skateboard ads ever created. You always showcased such a wide range of ideas but how much thought on your part was given to cohesion and how all of it fit together? Was your personality and taste level all the cohesion the brand needed? 

You know, that was my company and I did a lot of stuff for it but the teamriders were definitely a huge influence. Everyone’s input was always a big part of the company. From Markovich to Koston to Dill, I really tried to work with everybody’s ideas. I always thought that if I was going to fail, I wanted to fail by that way.

I never wanted there to be a reason not to do something for 101. I never wanted to use a brand idea to solve ideas. I always wanted it to be more of a challenge for everyone involved.

But I do wish that I would’ve had at least a little more cohesion. It still might be going like Blind is now. 

Is there a 101 ad you regard as your personal favorite?

It’s funny. I was in a meeting once for a retail shop and we met with the art department. On their board, they had taken a few pages out of that Dysfunctional book Aaron Rose did a few years back. One of the pages they hung up was that Gino ad I shot with a half-frame camera of him coming out of the tunnel. They handed the page to me, trying to pitch something and talking about how much they really liked that ad.

 “Yeah, that does look good. I did that ad.” It was just this funny moment.

I also liked the neon lights one in the desert. I shot that with a generator in the middle of the night. That was fun.

Of course, my answer to this might change the next time you ask me this. 

Truth be told, the “Supporting Gino’s Lifestyle” one is actually the reason why I started Chrome Ball. I couldn’t find it online one day and feared it to be lost forever.

That’s really cool. That’s a good one, too. 

The funny thing was that he had just come from Black Label so it wasn’t like he was living some crazy lifestyle or anything. But I shot that one, too. Just messing around with different camera techniques, came out pretty good.

How would you describe 101 in your own words? As in, what were you trying to accomplish? It was always so much different than your typical skateboard company… it almost seemed like the concepts and artwork were more important than selling boards.

That’s probably not that far off the mark. Definitely not my best business strategy.

I honestly wish I was clearer at the time. It sounds so stale now but a lot of it was about pushing boundaries of what people were doing. It didn’t seem like a lot of things were being considered in skateboarding at the time. Even though it has always been super-creative with tons of really neat people, it was never like, “Hey, we’re gonna actually have to do a photo shoot for this. It’s going to be a print ad, let’s really think this out.”

It always seemed like things should’ve been considered on a bigger scale. If you’re gonna make a photograph, consider everything from fine art to action photography and try to pull out the best thing you can. Show people something that they’ve never seen before.

It’s funny and kind of a retro-fit of an idea but 101 was really an introductory class into these things. It was really a learning experience for me. There was a lot of experimentation there. But I really wanted to push everything from visual ideas to concepts and try to consider everything… not just what has already happened in skateboarding but fine art, fashion and everything else going on in the world.

I guess it would’ve made a better blog. Just too early.

Who’s idea was it to release 5 minute videos?

Again, a better online tactic. But that was all the stuff we had. It just seemed better to put it out at that moment instead of sitting on it for another year to get more footage.

We would’ve posted it online as a free video if we could’ve. 

Hard to believe those classic videos would just be online freebies today. That’s crazy. Well, what was the story behind the Jogger in the first 101 video?

That’s actually Eric Koston.

Really? I never knew that.

Yeah! Slow motion that thing!

We just thought it would be funny. Again, it was just trying to do something different. Instead of making another straight-up skate video, we were trying to think of ways to make it different. Do the parts need to tie together? Would it be better that way?  How could we tie it all together in a way that really worked?

A lot of these ideas came from inside jokes we’d have. A lot of the lines went down for that video at the beach in Santa Monica and there were always joggers down there. It must’ve come up as a joke but the idea was that it’d be funny to have the same jogger go through every trick in that entire video. And yeah, that would be funny but at the same time, that would be pretty hard, too. Maybe we could just have him jog through some of the tricks.

Koston got the outfit together and was super down to do it. He just jogged around and we filmed it. That was it.  

How did you get all those extra boxes from other videos to package Snuff in? Cause I remember that screwed everybody up…

(laughs) Yeah, we went to the printer and we had such a small run. We were trying to figure out ways to give away the video or at least make it as cheap as possible. I think that’s also the same reason why there’s only a sticker on the with Blind Video Days box. Trying to cut down costs. But I remember asking the printer if he had any old extra boxes laying around from the other companies he had done work for and he actually did so we used those to put it out.

We thought it was funny. If you’re going to go out and buy a skate video, you already know what you’re getting. It seemed like everyone was just dubbing them anyway.

Your last 101 ad before your ankle injury was that nollie 50-50, probably the first time I saw a nollie being done into another functional trick. Is the realm of nollie and switchstance where you were going to start exploring more fullynext, had you not gotten hurt? Salman says he got infatuated with the nollie after seeing you do one up a bench at Brown Marble one day. Did you have any idea that was where skateboarding was about to go?

That’s funny about Salman.

The switch stuff was fun but I don’t think I would’ve gotten too technical with it. I never got too technical anyway… it was always a height thing. Power moves, more or less.

Nollies were neat, though. Going with speed and using them that way. But it’s like that with everything on skateboard: as soon as you learn a trick, you imagine what it’s like to do it switch or whatever. It’s not a genius breakthrough or anything. Its just fun to do things the wrong way, especially at that time.

Do you think you would’ve gotten into all that pressure flip/late flip stuff that really got popular right after you got hurt? Or did that stuff get you the creeps?

I was still skating a bit when that stuff started showing up. The late shuv-it stuff I liked, actually. They was fun and you could do them into lipslides and boardslides and things. Kind of a nice power move to it.

Pressure flips, though. Whew. Kinda sloppy. I was never really into that.

I still remember having to rummage through all kinds of deadstock in the back of the warehouse, trying find anything that was the right size back then. Searching for wheels over 45mm or boards at least close to 8 inches wide. That stuff was impossible to find for a while there. We’d have to ride these old Sluggo boards because they were at least a little bigger than the rest of the boards out there.  

That stuff just wasn’t rideable. I felt like some kind of dancing bear… a big guy on a little board. I just never had that kind of quickness. I always moved slow, especially after my ankle was done in. So those little wheels didn’t help me at all.   

What is something people don’t know about 101 Dalmatians? Were there any riders that you wanted to ride for the company but couldn’t get? And who do you see as the quintessential 101 rider?

Probably the most natural was when Koston was on there. He was just such a talent and could do anything. We'd be skating somewhere and ask him to do something. Anything. Like do a half impossible then knock it back... something that was so hard that it was actually funny. But he’d do it. It was really crazy. Just to have someone that good who could do something so hard that it’s almost funny. That’s a pretty good one.

I do remember trying to get Ronnie Bertino on 101 but he didn’t want to scoot over. That was a bummer. He was such a good skater. But that was really it as far as the ones that got away.  

When did you decide that it was time to put an end to 101? Do you feel like that it was ultimately successful? Was there ever any interest expressed by World to run it without you?

That’s kind of a funny one. It honestly didn’t end that great. It was mostly because of finanicial reasons due to the changes at World.  This was when World started getting vertically-structured: owning their own woodshop, making their own boards and screening their own graphics.

They were clearly making more profit on World and Blind boards. Steve Rocco was really good about making sure the 101 stuff stayed in the pipeline but when he wasn’t really there anymore, it got a little messy. Months started to go by without our stuff getting made. It got pretty frustrating.

They actually did try to keep it going for a few months after I left. Whatever. It fizzled quickly and they shut it down pretty fast.   This was when I started to work on a few different magazines and doing some design work.

If there was a way for it to comeback and do it with the stuff that we were talking about, this being 20 years later... Coming in with more of a plan and a decided-way of running things. To actually have a single logo for the company to use, not a whole bunch of different ones. To keep pushing the creativity with every project, as part of our mission statement. It would be neat to see that happen.

But that’s pretty useless, I think. I don’t see any real need for it to come back. There’s so many other things going on right now.  

I know you’ve done all kinds of design work with a long list of impressive clients. Plus I saw one of you works you did for a Paris show with animated graphics from a bunch of old-school boards. So sick. And I love that you’ve been able to develop that trademark Natas scrawl in to something instantly recognizable. What made you decide to get back in the game with Designarium?

A lot of it was just having met so many neat people over the years. People that I like and admire. I wanted to be able to work with them in some capacity... and I didn’t want them to get ripped off by a bigger company that was gonna screw them over. I wanted to figure out a way where the artist could get a bit of money to have something made that we could keep as an art-based limited edition kind of thing. I don’t want to do exact replica things… not that I find anything wrong with that but if there’s someway to use an idea and take it a little further, I’d prefer that.

I was stoked on that last Don Pendleton collabo. So I have to throw in a requisite handrail question here but in a way, it kinda correlates to having a shoe deal so early on as well. These two things, the rails and the pro shoes, are almost like the two defining characteristics of how younger kids view skateboarding these days. Obviously you have to be proud of these two accomplishments, as you should be, but is there part of you that almost feels like you started a monster?

(laughs) I can see that but I like to think that a lot of this would’ve happened with or without me. It was just the natural progression of things. I think it’s cool.

There’s not a governing body or ranking system over skateboarding. It just all works itself out. But if you’re good enough, interesting enough and the designs are good enough for your shoe or board, you’ll be alright. You just gotta be on your game. It’s self-governing.

As far as the handrail stuff goes, that was always a rush. Now it’s on this crazy other level but I’m sure that it’s the same thing for those guys. I never did anything death-defying like these guys are doing today. Doing handrails where you can actually die.

We were just pioneers in our covered wagons. You can look back on some of that stuff and it’s almost “cute”, ya know? It’s funny. But I guess it followed the natural course.

Death-defying is right, though. What do you think when you see these kids trying these insane rails. Sure, it’s impressive but there’s no real flow to a lot of it.

It’s rad, man. Some of it gets a little stunty-y but it’s amazing to see happen.

We’ve touched upon this element basically throughout this entire interview so let’s get to the root of it all: how would you define the word “style”?

I actually think it’s linked to personality. Style and personality are very similar as someone’s style really seems to be their personality coming through. It’s almost like if you are attracted to someone’s style, you can probably bet that you’ll get along with them. You can hang out with that person or have lunch and actually like them as people.  But if their style rubs you the wrong way, you probably won’t get along with them.

It’s more than just aesthetics somehow, it’s almost like the essence of that person.

Amazing answer. Alright Natas, I’m gonna have to cut it here. Anything you’d like to add? Any words of wisdom you’d like to put out there after all of this?

Not much wisdom but it was all fun. It’s nice to see people still remember and care. That’s really neat. It was good times, for sure.


So is this it for the Chrome Ball Incident?

Yeah, this is it.

Wow. I’m the last Chrome Ball. Yeah, it’s really been a great site. I love the in-depth detail of it.

Yeah, it’s pretty nerdy but I like to think that’s the beauty of it.

Well, good luck with everything, Eric.

Thanks, Natas. This has been fun. 

Thank You Chrome Ballers.


Andrew said...

thanks chops will miss checking this everyday , a true masterpiece

platinumseagulls said...

Here's Chops:

( •_•)>⌐■-■

He walks off the Internet. Slow clap ensues.

Really though, between the scanning, the transcribing, the hauling of heft of magazines for years, decades even, all the pitch-perfect words, the humble narrative and the kind respect the guy had for all his interview subjects, the stories that came out in the comments, the happy nostalgia and all of the rest: Thanks, man.

ATM said...

I'm having trouble realizing that this is the end of CBI. Something in the back of my head keeps telling me that a Gonz or Blender interview will pop up sooner rather than later.

Thanks for keeping everyone entertained on rainy days, boring classes, slow work days, and making mondays worth waking up for. You're a god among mere mortals, chops.

Anonymous said...

thank you sir. just thank you.

welch said...

thank you chops.

all hail CBI.

Erik L said...

It reminds me of Winston Churchill's line- "Never was so much owed by so many to so few". Except in this case, the "few" is one person.

Thanks for all your hard work, interesting e-mails, and reading my semi-coherent rants.

Good luck to you, your wife, your Mom, and your cats.

Lucas said...

Amazing. Thanks, Eric.

Skately said...

Wow, that really was the icing on the cake. Hearing about those early Natas/Gonz sessions was awesome. True visionaries.

Thank you for everything Eric!

Joon said...

Thank you chops! I can't tell you how excited I was when I got back into skating and found this site.

Jeff said...

Inspiration, information, and life confirmation. Thanks for everything you've done here, much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I'll keep coming back to re-read old posts and the superb interviews as if you had never gone...

Thank you very much Eric!

Brendan said...

*Golf clap*
Those last interviews were the best outta all of 'em.
Thanks for everything and good luck,man!

ODB said...

Going to miss this. You've done a proud service to us 80s/90s skaters.

Massive respect to the time and dedication you put into CBI.

Five-o Cheapster said...

Huge debt of gratitude - thanks for all the time and effort that you've put into providing the rest of the world with chromeball. So many days have been made brighter by cbi. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Amazing interview. Thank you for everything , chops.

Questionable said...

What a great piece! T H A N K S !

Chris said...

Speechless. Amazing interview.

- switches off computer and picks up board -

Thank you for everything and see you around!

ed said...

great interview.
thanks for all the great posts, and good luck in your future ventures!

Umanile said...

Thank you.


. said...


Anonymous said...

Incredible work Chops. Thanks for the good times. - Zac (Crossfire)

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Coming from a fellow journalist, you were always spot on with your questions and went in the direction that the readers would of wished you went if you didn't.

Thanks for all your hard work!

Anonymous said...

A skater of nearly 30 years and a long time lurker on the chromeball. Never commented but feel the need to do so now. Thanks for everything. Chromeball will be missed. All the best with whatever you do next.

Sam Ashley said...

Great interview, and thank you.

Anonymous said...


channelzeroprose said...

Perfect ender but sad none the less. Good work CBI.

georg reinhardt said...

feels like the end of sopranos – right in the middle, and: bääääm! it's been a great trip with the chromeball incident!

thanks for the incredible work and all the skate nerd knowledge, eric!

take good care and have fun!

Questionable said...

… and what a cruel time when natas has to search for fitting boards and wheels …

Andy Vibes said...

Thanks. If nothing else you've created an amazing reference library for the rest of us. Amazing memories. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Chops. Love Live Chrome Ball Incident. Skate 4 Life. KAYOTO

Giles said...

thanks so much chops, and best of luck with everything.

Tferks said...

Thanks for all your hard work. I'm still peeping this site daily. I can't express how grateful I am for this:)

Anonymous said...


NotZenYet said...

Wow. Well done. All the best in whatever the future holds for you sir.

Anonymous said...

Talk about an ender ender. Thank you for all your hard work.

Justin said...

Thank you. It was one hell of a good run.

JuneCate said...

Thanks for keeping us skate nerds young and dropping knowledge for the young cats. Best of luck!

Sergio from Italy said...

Thank you for Chrome Ball Incident, one of the best things in skateboarding....

Anonymous said...

love what you do!
keep it up!

Anonymous said...

what? no more CBI?

Unknown said...

Man thank you for all the great work. Sweet memories...hope you will print a brochure with the interviews or get some collab with somebody.

White Ninja said...


Way to go out on top... You were an everyday visit for at least three years. I found you at post 198...

great job

Palodislow said...

I can´t believe CBI comes to and end. Thanks for all the great words and pictures.

dylan digits said...

Thank you Chops. Your blog helped me remember why I skated as a young girl in the late 80s/early 90s and helped get me back on a board for the first time in almost 20 years in 2013. May you find success as you define it in whatever comes next.

Unknown said...


chops its been amazing following the site all these short years. success to you in whatever follows.

natas is so humble its life affirming.

thank you for all of this.

Anonymous said...

Mic drop!!!!!

20 years from now there will some episodic virtual reality brain implant waxing on about the golden days of bloggery. CBI will def be given it's due recognition. In all seriousness, kudos for the diligence, breadth, and classiness of the way this whole thing was put together from beginning to end. Look forward to whatever outlet you seek in the future. thank you.

Seasons Zine said...

CBI is/was something special. I'm going to miss coming here and finding something new. I'm from the Pittsburgh area as well, I'm curious as to who Eric/Chops really is. Seems like we grew up skating in the same era.

Rob said...

Thank you for everything, Chops. You should be very proud of this blog and for your contribution to skateboarding. You will be missed.

Such Luck said...

Thanks for all the hard work Chops!

sprntrl said...

E-Mic Drop. Thanks for everything Chops. I think I no longer need to use the internet.....

chepesent said...

many gracias chops!

Lari said...

Amazing interviews all week, thank you so much! So much interesting in-depth skatenerd shit. You should consider writing for skatemags if you haven't already. Been checking this site since the beginning so i'm gonna miss it for sure. So much inspirational stuff in old mags. Luckily there will be this amazing archive of the best of skateboarding online now.

Unknown said...

thanks again Eric, we all can't wait to see what you do next.
I will forever brag about having gotten a photo I took on to your site, even if it was after the initial post. This site has reminded us all (or introduced us to) of some incredible moments in skateboarding that would have slipped away were it not for your scanning efforts. Even the "weakest posts" in your opinion hold with them a level of sincerity and insight that rival much larger, heavily funded entities attempts of coverage and interpretation.
I hope in all your humbleness, you have a great sense of pride for what you've done here, because it is well earned.

Diabolics .|. said...

Thank you. Legacy. Tears. The End.

Jake Rosenberg said...

Love it.
fitting conclusion.
Fair winds and Following Seas...

Dustin Umberger said...

Thanks for going for it, Chops. None could've done it better or with more style. Now you can sell your mag collection on ebay and retire! Joking aside, what a great contribution you've made. Good luck in the future.

Loo Ganida said...

THANKS doesnt even cover it!!!
hopefully something brings you back sooner than later!
I'll still be checking back,that's for sure.
Peace out Eric.

J. Hodg. said...

Unquestionably one of the most poignant interviews of all time.

Every street skater is forever indebted to CBI.

Phenomenal ender ender, Chops.


Anonymous said...

thank you so very much. best thing on the internet.

Unknown said...

To End with Natas.....Perfect

Anonymous said...

Yo Chops,
thanks a lot. It is a really a gift to visit your site and to enjoy skateboarding while not skateboarding.
I really apreciate your work here.
Wish you all the best. Greetings from Germany. Michel

smitty said...

thank you chops for so many years of great interviews, photo's id thought i would never see again, and all those great ads I had missed over time, thank you again for all the hard, now relax and grab a beer cause that carpel tunnel from all that scanning can ease up now.

Rizzo said...

Ripping! Good word Chops and good luck!

JB said...

Super rad interview. Natas my all time favorite. Good luck on your next move Chop. Thanks for this site.

Daniel said...

Much love, Chops. Thanks for preserving all the memories. Can't wait to hang my CBI board up on my wall.

Anonymous said...

There are no more words, so here's a song...

Long live Chrome Ball
Offspring and tag alongs were finding
The history book has lost it's binding
Pages everywhere
Two titans without care will read them
We conjure ghosts and then we feed them
And if it all goes well we'll laugh a lot
And then we'll all take photographs
Of what we made..lemonade
Freedom cake quick to bake
Trim the tree collectively
Breath the air from the fair
And watch colored lights shine down
Dancing round the ladys face
As we learned the sound
We can't keep this violent pace
Though we know that haste makes waste
And I'm giving you a ring
For the dreams of the weed king we all sing

Thank you for everything, Chops.

Anonymous said...


Guided by Voices- 'Weedking'

When will the skate community realize the vast, un-tapped gold mine that is GBV?

Anonymous said...

This is now a museum.
Someone in the industry give this guy a job!

Unknown said...

CBI was the ultimat Blog off the golden age off Skaboards Blog! And the special thing about it is that it made, mostly whit the golden age of Skateboards print media. I personaly have a full "bibliotheque" of skateboards magazine and i never thing that one day something great like this blog could be done! I hope that the blog will be open for ever because it show a great part of skateboards hystory.

Like we said in french. Merci beaucoup pour tout!

Anonymous said...

Have been going on the site for about a month or two I'm happy I was around to see the updates first hand. Enjoying the surprise of what may be coming the next morning and finding out with childish glee. You have done an excellent job! Thanks from Delaware

nettic said...

Thanks for this site. It is a work of art

nettic said...

Thanks for the site. It's a work of art!


Tai Kahn said...

How does the best interview on the last and only normal website I still visit end with the most bittersweet realization ever, that chrome ball is over, super sad.

Anonymous said...

maraming salamat

Anonymous said...


Thank you for creating this library of inspiration. Although I'll be revisiting Chrome Ball from time to time I'm going to miss your updates. Wishing you all the best in your next adventure.

~ John

coopsta said...

Thank you Chops. This site has been an incomparable source of inspiration for me and I hope that it will remain a resource for young skaters to find out what's what.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Really special. R.i.p

Paul said...

Thank you for all that work that you've done. Now I have to start from the first post all over. Again, a big thank you, this is,was and will ever be the best history of skateboarding related site ever!!!

Anonymous said...

Great ender!

Hope we haven't seen the last of you Chops....

Anonymous said...

you can't just update once in a great while, like whenever you have free time? or did you scan everything you have? there's more shit out there im sure and this website would be the best site to collect on it's awesome will this blog still stay on the internet?

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see this end. I started skating in 79 and by the mid-80's I skated only 70's boards and payed no attention to popular skating or magazines. I missed most all of what you've gone over here the first time so I'm stoked to catch it with your scan work. Thanks very much, your interviews were some of the best in skateboarding I've ever read. I have to admit, the early 90's street stuff was never of much interest to me, but thanks for having enough vert and all terrain stuff to keep me stoked. Plus, I actually like having some of the street stuff enter into my mind to know how all the history fits together. You really created a quality blog. Hope to see you do more stuff soon elsewhere. Cenen

t.a. said...

Way to go, Chops! Out with a bang!

One question, which you may or may not see, but you've mentioned a handful of times that you've long known what your final post would be; seems that you've had it your pocket all along, but is this interview that post?

'Mostly Curious'

Keith said...

Great interview to end it all. imo the master.

Imagine if 101 were still going? It would be so tarnished and watered down. Glad it ended and we get the memory of it as it was.

GH said...

Amazing interview, thank you chops for all of your hard work and dedication (i have boxes and boxes of mags in my gargae if you ever want to get started again, or do a quick update) thank you Natas for everything ? all of the amazing things you have given to skateboarding both on and off of the board cant be counted or appreciated in a single thank you note - thank you both !!! you rule !!!
Guy H

skateboard said...

Natas is the legend of skating. Its very interesting to read this blog. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

Truly a one-of-a-kind thing! Thanks for all the great stuff over the years. And thanks to Natas for opening up for once. Here’s me, on an OG SMA Natas board: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dorkstar/703944621/in/photolist-25cUde-5BTxSD-5FcnfL/lightbox/

bradmaddox said...
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