¡Bonus track for english readers!
+ Yo Vern, what's up? How is Argentina treating you so far?
– Argentina is amazing. One of the best countries I have been to by far. Everybody here is really cool. Everyone treats you like family here. I've been fortunate to have met people that will be life long friends. I have the best tour guides here. So many good spots to skate and going out to eat a different restaurant every night. I love it here. I never want to leave!
+ I'm not going to ask you about how you started filming, on the other hand i'd really like to know what kept you holding that VX1000 in front of you eye?
– That's a good question. I don't know. hahaha! I guess I'm to lazy to learn how to use a new camera. Or too cheap to buy a new camera. I don't know. I guess I'm use to using this camera. I've had the same one since 1998 so I know how to use it. I know the feel of it. It's like an extension of my arm or hand. It's just always been there. It feels comfortable. Plus the lens. The fish eye is the best. There will never be another one like it.
+ Judging from the little talk we shared you are a pretty much a “go-with-the-flow” kind of guy. How could you explain that you were exactly where shit was happening back then when you started? I mean, you were filming R. Oyola and all those guys when Philly was exploding!
– I am a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I guess I was just lucky to born at the right time. Or start skating at the right time. I feel like things in life are just about being in the right place and the right time. Back when I started skating, skateboarding was this small thing. Nobody skated. When I stated high school, I was one of 5 skaters in my school. By the time I was in my last year of high school I was the only person skating. This is kinda how it was everywhere back in the late 80's/early 90's. So Love Park just became a meeting place where skaters from all over the city would meet after school. And all the skaters there had the same story. You were most likely the only person in your school or neighborhood that skated so you had to go to downtown, the center of the city and meet skaters from different neighborhoods. That's how I met everyone in Philly. And I always had a camera but I would just film stuff and make stupid little home movies. Nothing was really serious then. As I got older and my friends were getting sponsored and going to California, it started getting more serious. and Out of nowhere, Philadelphia became a skate mecca. Guys from New York City would come down and skate. Like Keenan, Huf, Gino and Pang. And guys from Washington DC would come up and skate like Andy Stone, Pepe Martinez, Chris Hall and Scott Johnston. So just at the time, The whole east coast was blowing up. Even guys from Boston were coming down to skate Philly. Like Jahmal Williams and Robbie Gangemi. We were all the same age and the scenes in all those cities were blowing up at the same time. It was like the big bang for skateboarding. I started filming everyone when Dan Wolfe moved out to California. So there was a void and I filled the void. Dan showed me how to use the VX3 which was the hot camera back then. I had to get a better camera if I was to be a serious filmer. So i had to get rid of my crappy sony hi-8 camera and get the VX3. ha. Around that time, we also had companies on the east coast like Silverstar, Capital, Nicotine and First Division. So I started filming for these companies since my roommates skated for these companies. I was living with Ricky Oyola for a bit. Then Sergei Trudnowski and AJ Mazzu. So it was easy for me to film with everybody since I lived with the best skaters in the city. And people visiting from out of town would stay with us so I got to film with them also. I got to film with Josh Kalis because he was sleeping on my floor when he was 17. He got kicked out of his moms house so he stayed with us for a little while. I remember the first time Stevie Williams showed up at Love park. He was 12 and was riding a beat up used board and shoes that where 2 sizes 2 big for his feet. But once if got proper stuff to skate, he blew up in like 6 months. Just learning every trick. With all that being said, everything just came down to me being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people.
+ I'm kind of an “east-coast-skate” fan, if that makes sense. You've lived and skated there and then you moved into the west coast. Could you give me some pros/cons or main differences skatewise speaking?
– There are huge differences both good and bad between the east coast and the west coast. The weather is the first thing that comes to mind. The weather is perfect in LA so you can skate all year round in the perfect weather. East coast, mainly Philly. You have all 4 seasons to deal with. Snow and cold in the winter months. Rain in the spring and all. And unbearable hot humid weather in the summer months. LA has one season. NICE! Seriously the weather is perfect everyday. It's sunny and warm everyday. And the same temperature everyday. When you have nice weather, you have perfect spots. All the skate spots in California are perfect. But at the same time so perfect it's boring. The perfect spots create a lack of flavor to the spots. East coast spots are perfect, but the imperfection of the skate spots on the east coast, make them more exciting to skate. The most perfect spot we have on the east coast is Love Park. I was fortunate to skate a plaza with a marble floor and marble benches. I was seriously spoiled. I use to hate going to skate other places that weren't as good as Love Park. haha. You have to skate it to know what I'm talking about. I guess the other pro/con is that most of the skate industry is on the west coast. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing to be around this much industry gossip. Sometimes I miss being on the side of the country far away for the industry drama and bullshit. It's like being in high school again with all the stupid he said she said shit. And who hates who and why. I was better off not knowing anything. The least amount of bullshit you know the better. The industry shit almost takes all the fun out of it. The attitudes of the skates born on the east are way different also. East coast people like to keep it real. We really tell you how we are feeling and what we think. We don't hide shit. West coast people will secretly hate you but not tell you. West coast people will tell you one thing to your face and then stab you in the back. An east coast person will just stab you in the face and tell you straight to your face. ha. I think spots look boring to skate on the west coast. All we do is skate school yards with plastic benches. Same shit at a different school yard. It all looks the same to me. The skaters all do the same boring tricks with the same boring style. And you have to drive everywhere. Everything is so spread out. In Philly, you walk out the front door and just start pushing down the street. And there's a million things to skate on your way to the spot that you are going to skate. And since you are skating a real city, it's constantly changing. New things being build. Old thing being destroyed. And it's all skateable. I feel like this is the reason east coast skaters are a little more creative and more enjoyable to watch. You don't sit in a car all day on the east coast and you are actually on your board pushing around.
+ You were involved in filming one of my favourite skate videos and a sort of fresh air into the skatevideo releases of 2007, Listen! – Viajeros Locos. You could actually feel the fun they were having while they were skating…thoughts on that time, funny stories?
– I loved working on the Listen video. That video was fun because we were more like a family than a random skate company of strangers. We all knew each other for a long time and the team was small so it's easy to get along with everybody when there are fewer people. I have so many good stories from that time period because we were traveling constantly for 2 years to film for that. We went all over Europe, Asia, South America and the USA. We went everywhere we could rig a cheap trip. ha. 5 weeks in Europe traveling by plans, trains and automobiles. New Year's in Thailand. They have a huge country wide water fight for new year's in Thailand which is in April according to their calender. It is seriously the best time to go there if you are ever going to go there. I fel l in the moat that runs the length of the city in Chiang Mai. When we went to Colombia, it was during my birthday and we were with Danny Montoya's family. His family lives in Medellin and we skated some of the best spots ever in that city. We did a demo at some huge arena. I feel like the whole city was there. Danny was doing interviews on TV and radio the week before the demo. People broke into the van and stole all the product we had for the product toss. It was nuts. It was like a mini-riot. But I don't think they ever had anything that big in Medellin before. Gabriel De La Mora hated filming in the states so I had to go to Mexico to film his part. He only has one trick from the states in his part. So I would drive to Mexico to film with him at stay for weeks at a time. At first I hated driving in Mexico because everybody drives crazy there. Gabe would drive my car around. Then I got use to it and realized I just had to drive as crazy as everybody else. haha. One time we were filming at some in Mexico at midnight and it was just me and Gabe and we were kinda in a bad part of town but a busy part of town. I had the lights and generator going and it was really bright. This car with 5 guys circled the block a few times. I noticed the first time. Gabe noticed the second time so he used my cell phone to call his friends. Just as the guys in the car were about to come for us on their third time by, Gabe's friends showed up and the other guys in the car took off. I guess there are too many good stories if I think about it more.
+ What have you been up to lately? Solo projects? Free-lance filming? Team managing?
– Right now I'm working as the Bones Swiss Bearings team manager. Free-lance filming with who ever still wants to go out and film with me which is not much since I'm not shooting in HD yet. I'm still doing announcing for skate events with the S.P.O.T Light Productions/Skatepark of Tampa guys. Contests are getting big again so hopefully I'll be doing a lot of that this year. I'd like to do another solo project but I don't if i will have time. We'll see.
+ To wrap it up could you make a Top 5 of the most inspiring/hypening parts out there that you feel everyone should watch and remember?
Guy Mariano – Mouse (Girl)
Mark Gonzales – Video Days (Blind)
Mike Carroll – Questionable (Plan B)
Fred Gall – Real Life (Subzero Skate Shop Video)
Ricky Oyola – Underachievers (Eastern Exposure 3)