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John Cardiel

Lyle: Over the past 10 years skateboarding has gotten hugely popular. With all these corporate sponsors throwing their hats into the ring certain skaters now stand to earn millions. Such was not the case in the ‘90s, as even big name pros had to sell boards just to eat. What was it like as a young pro on Dogtown and Black Label back in the day? What was the money situation like when Anti-Hero (1995) first started out?

John Cardiel: Shit, money? What money? [Laughs] Nah, I always made enough to get by. There were times when I had to juggle some things to make ends meet, but I never had to settle down at no nine-to-fiver.

Skateboarding has been around for nearly 60 years. It’s rad to see all the skateboard nostalgia on the internet. Vice’s Epicly Later’d, a show that unearths skateboardings urban legends and documents seasoned pro careers, did a full length special on you spotlighting your injury and recovery. What was it like filming for that?
It was real mellow. Chris Grosso [editor] and Patrick O’dell [producer] came out to my house for a day and we knocked it out. I just wanted to tell my story. I got so much support from the whole skateboard community while I was in the hospital in Australia after my accident. I just wanted to put it down so people would understand what exactly happened. People’s reactions have been amazing. I am just thankful. It’s all been so positive.

It’s widely known that you have travelled all over the globe in search of skate spots with the infamous Hell Ride Crew. More recently Girl and Anti-Hero have been getting together for those ‘Beauty and Beast’ camping skate tours through the Pacific Northwest and Europe. How do the Beauty and the Beast Tours compare with the Hell Ride trips?
The Beauty and the Beast tours were pretty amazing man. It actually felt like my amateur days because I used to go on trips to AM Contests with those [Girl] dudes. We just kicked back, crushed brews and shared stories. It was super dope. The Beauty and the Beast trips don’t really compare to the Hell Ride trips we used to do though. The Hell Ride Crew was tight homies and tough love. No comfort skate missions. So we were on a different trip. It was more like seek and destroy skate parks and skate till you pass out.

My friend Donald is the dishwasher dude with the beard at Bucca Di Bepo Seattle who says “Mike Carroll” in the ending of the first Beauty and the Beast DVD. He is a big Cardiel fan. He told me Julien [Stranger] snapped a photo of the two of you and said he would email it, but never got around to it. You think Julien still has that photo laying around somewhere?
I will ask Julien, but I think he might have lost that camera at the end there. [Laughs]


John Cardiel

Words: Lyle Matsuura
Photography: Jasmine Law & Michael Keeney

In 2003 while on a skate trip in Brisbane, Australia, legendary skateboarder John Cardiel (1992 Thrasher Skater of the Year) took an untimely fall while running alongside a van in their entourage. John suffered a major spinal cord injury and was told that it was likely he would never walk again. Deeming the diagnosis unacceptable, John was determined to prove the doctors wrong. In just five months, by sheer will John regained the use of his legs and has been defying medical science ever since. After a temporary scare, the skateboarding community not only got John “the skateboarder” back, but also bore witness to a number of other multifaceted talents, which were unbeknownst prior to the incident. After a short sideline, John was back on his board and back on the road. He is also now known for his fixed gear bike antics and continues to add to his list of accomplishments, as a pro skateboarder, pro snowboarder, and all around ball of energy. John continues to inspire everyone he touches and is probably out in the streets right now as we speak. Follow the lead.

John Cardiel

I was snooping online and found an interview you did with Joey Tershay [Hell Ride Crew] a few years back where you said the first time you stepped on a skateboard you did a 180 and the neighborhood kids were bugging out. Is that right, the first time you stepped on a board you busted a legit 180? Frontside or back?
Yeah, man. It was a green Mike McGill aircraft carrier board! I asked if I could try the dude’s board and busted out a Frontside 180 Ollie. The dude got super hyped and was like, “Dang dude, you got to get a board!” So I did and it’s been the tightest shit I’ve touched ever since.

That’s crazy! Who was the first pro skater that blew you away? Do you recall that experience?
Probably Keith Meeks. I went to Derby Skate Park [legendary skate park in Santa Cruz, CA] when I was a kid and Keith showed up and ripped the park with sick surf style! That was awesome.

Rad! I lived in West Cliff for a bit and Derby was pretty close to where I was staying. I know you are a big music head. Do you play any instruments? Ever jam out with the homies?
Nah, I don’t really play any instruments. I have a really short attention span and it’s hard for me to hold a line. I can freestyle slam on some drums or wild out on a guitar for a hot minute though just like anyone else!

Super sick! You know it feels good to just yell when you are with your homies especially during a skate session. You are known for having this crazy energy and often talk about good vibes or getting psyched. Can you touch upon that a bit?
Yeah. Just being into whatever it is you are doing, you know. If you are around people you like and you are stoked on what you are doing then it creates those vibes. So I like to forward that.

I heard that you have been to Hawai‘i on a few trips. What were they like?
Hawai‘i is the shit man! I just feel hella comfortable there in the heat and the sun. I bring my fixed gear bike out there and ride a lot. Last year Julien and I rode around the island and hiked some point. That shit was hella fun! The clay mud was so gnarly out there it locked up both my wheels. Brutal. Stoked on that J Boog video. Let’s do it again! Baaap! Braaapp!

[Laughs] Word! Here is some skate rat shit. What’s the hardest trick? Who does it the best?
For me? I don’t know, but I seen Josh Kalis a while back doing that Kickflip Backside Noseblunt. That was pretty wicked!

What’s your favorite trick? Most fun?
Probably Fakie Manuals, Nose Wheelies, and Frontside Slappies on well painted red curbs.

There are lots of young rippers out there. Do you have any favorites?
There is a lot. It’s getting so gnarly. Emmanuel Guzman and Raven Tershay.

E-man is super sick. Lastly, any plans for the summer?
Just to keep going.



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