Monthly Archives: December 2009

Interview with Steve Berra.

How long have you been skateboarding?

Almost 24 years. Can you believe that? Pro for 19.

Why did you choose skateboarding?

I played soccer growing up. It was my life. Eat, breathe, sleep soccer. I played for all the best teams. I have 90 first place soccer trophies sitting in my dad’s garage, but independence was always something that interested me. This manifested through BMX at first, but then it quickly shifted to skateboarding. I moved from St. Louis to Omaha when I was in 7th grade, all the kids in my neighborhood had a skateboard. I told my sister I’d never get one, but by the time my birthday rolled around, I couldn’t resist. In the beginning it was just getting to and from my friends house and everyone else was doing it and I have no qualms about admitting that, but over the next two years, as the kids changed around me and drinking and smoking weed and doing drugs became more prevalent and they wanted to do that more than they wanted to skate, I clung to skateboarding even more as I was not interested in taking that turn down that street. My family never had money when I was a kid, I have 4 older sisters, but we did have a roof over our head and we did have food and that’s a huge achievement in and of itself, especially in that time, and something I didn’t understand the complexity of until I was older. When my parents split, the situation worsened and my mom and I moved to the shittiest little house that cost $300 a month, I ate once a day at a friend’s house because we couldn’t afford food and I skated for free at the skate park. So, at this point in my life, literally, skateboarding was my only way out. It was independent, it was anti-establishment, it was artistic, it celebrated creativity and it was opposite of what everyone around me was turning into, drones. My success with it all depended solely on me and I learned a lot of hard lessons. There is nothing on earth like it and I will love it and follow it until the day I die.

What’s your favorite trick?

My favorite trick is the 360 flip. I do not possess a very good 360 flip and this is probably the reason as to why it is my favorite trick. You can never go wrong with a 360 flip.

What’s your favorite skate video?

As a kid: Ban This

As a newly sponsored 16 year old: Video Days, Rubbish Heap and the Planet Earth video.

As a professional: That is a very tough call. I can appreciate the beauty in almost every skate video because I know how hard people work on them.

Who are your top 5 skaters?

5 is not really fair because I have way more than 5. Because I turned pro for skating vert, then quickly made a transition to street skating thanks to Eric, I will give you the top 5 in both categories. 

STREET

Eric Koston

Rick Howard

Marc Johnson

Heath Kirchart

Mike Mo

VERT

Danny Way

Bucky Lasek

Tom Boyle

Justin Lynch

Peter Hewitt

How did you meet Eric Koston?

We met at an amateur contest back in 1991. 

Why did you start the Berrics?

Eric and I started it because there needed to be another system established to promote companies, professionals and up and coming skateboarders that embraced the changing landscape of media due to the internet. We knew it was a chance for us to develop something that could enable us to do thing we had seen done improperly during our career because they were being done by people who either don’t skate or are unaware of the things pro skateboarders go through. We just wanted something done by pro skateboarders with the benefit of pro skateboarders in mind.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Anything and everything I can. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t think it’s silly that a single person can improve the way things are with hard work and care.

What is the hardest thing to deal with being a public figure?

I have a different kind of “fame”. I’m well known in my field, but not to the general public so it’s nice in that respect. What sucks about the position I’m in now is that people mistake popularity with wealth. I hear the nuttiest things about me and my bank account. And because this idea is pretty pervasive it leaves a lot of room for people to be disappointed with me for very misinformed reasons. The best I can do though is to do my best with the same 24 hours in every day we’re all given.

Do you think our current government is working?

I do not. It’s been broken for a long time and I believe we have yet to see the worst of it. The United States, with its wild spending, cannot sustain itself and this is very sad to me.

How do you feel about President Obama?

When I first heard about him I was backing him, then I did some research and then followed the campaign, have now followed his presidency and, well, unfortunately, I’m not impressed. More spending. More War. More protection for the banks and despite saying the contrary, the same old connections to Wall Street. Keywords: Goldman Sachs, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, New York Federal Reserve Bank, Federal Reserve Bank, Christina Romer, Jon Corzine, Mark Patterson, Henry Paulson, George W. Bush, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, American International Group (AIG), Ed Liddy, Ben Bernanke, Robert K Steel, Wachovia Bank, Neel Kashkari, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Reuben Jeffrey, Dan Jester, Steve Shafran, Kendrick Wilson III, Edward Frost, Josh Bolton, Bank of Inernational Settlements (BIS), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and let me say once again, Goldman Sachs. But hey, I’m just a skateboarder, I don’t know much about politics so ask me about kickflips.

What would you do with a billion dollars?

I’d have my own freeway. I’d change the prices of gas, of course, bring them down to where they was. I’d put cocaine back in Coca-Cola, cuz they took it out. I’d put that back. I’d get love for that! I’d take off all banned substances from sports so you could use whatever steroid or horomone growth you want as long as you hittin’ home runs it’s fine with me. I’d make prostitution legal in about 5 more states. You know I would legalize weed first and second. I’d put a law to it that there’s no more child support and there’s no more, what they call that stuff, no more little pre-nup. You don’t have to sign that cuz she don’t get nothin’ period. I would make it like just because she married you that don’t mean nothing, cuz she laid with you for some years she gotta get somethin, I been layin with another bitch too the whole time, she don’t get shit. See I don’t like that. I’d use that billion dollars to change that. Next question. Me for President, don’t holla atchya boy. (first person to name in the comments section below where and who I got those answers from and the one answer that was added by me, I will send a free Berrics Runs hoodie)

**BONUS QUESTION: Okay, this is a bonus question and it’s tough. Give me the connection between the  ANSWER  of the first PRIZE question and myself. Whoever gets and names the connection in the comments section below, The Berrics will send you a complete skateboard of your choice.

Do you ever want to act again?

I get asked that more than I thought I ever would. Yes, I want to, but the truth is I’ve got other things I’m more committed to at the moment. How about this though, I will act in your next film and I will act in my next film. Sound good? You can act in my next film too because you are one of the finest actors I’ve seen and I’m not just saying that because this is your blog, because I don’t give a fuck about no blog, player.

Do you ever want to Direct again?

I’m building the Berrics empire so that I can. I want to be a real ally to filmmakers so that I don’t have to deal with the garbage I went through with The Good Life.

I wouldn’t bestow that upon my worst enemy.

I had a conversation with Miguel Arteta this summer about challenges he’s gone through in his career and I just thought to myself, here is this fantanstic director who is obviously the brightest guy in most rooms he’s in, why on earth would you give him a hard time? I want The Berrics to be so big that it becomes this safe haven for skateboarders, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, etc. Where they can get done the things they want to get done without someone not as bright as them harnessing their ability to create. We have a long way to go, but it’s something to shoot for.

Who are some of your Favorite directors?

David Fincher, MIchael Mann, PTA, Jonathan Demme, Alan Parker, Scorcese, Miguel Arteta, Todd Solondz, Fernando Mierelles, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Andrew Dominick. Three directors who have only made one film and I cannot wait until I see their next, Bennet MIller (Capote), Niels Mueller (The Assassination of Richard Nixon) . and yourself (Explicit Ills). 

What are some of your Favorite films?

Any film made by the above directors.

Organic or conventional?

Organic.

What’s it like being a father?

It’s tough sometimes because you go through a lot of heartbreak as a kid and then when you think you’ve grown out of it, you have a child of your own and you go through it all over again. You also have expectations that are sometimes unrealistic, you have heartache with them not liking you, you have heartache as a result of their heartache, but on the flipside you have this indescribable joy and connection with another person that you just don’t have with anyone else and you have a real sense of achievement and pride when they turn out to be an extraordinary individual. 

What three websites do you frequent the most?

I go to a lot of websites but not frequently. I only frequent two:

theberrics.com 

slashfilm.com

If you could give anybody a piece of your mind who would it be and what would you say?

I’d rather not say, his dream might come true. 

Beyonce or rihanna?

Rihyance.

Eminem or Asher Roth?

Without a doubt Eminem. In every field there is always one person who is so much rawer, so much more ahead of everyone else that it’s impossible not to see it. In acting, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio, Skateboarding, Danny Way. Rapping, Eminem. They are the best and the brightest.

Do you have a favorite photographer?

No.

Do you have a favorite artist?

No.

What advice would you give an aspiring pro-skater?

Skateboarding is about commitment not desire. You can have all the desire in the world but if you are not committed you will not make it.

What is the nicest thing someone has said to you?

My daughter said to me the other day while we were getting in the car for no particular reason, “Dad… I love you.” And she’s 16 so that is an incredible, incredible feeling.

What is the meanest thing someone has said to you?

“Dad, I hate you.” She never said that to me, but she said it. 

What makes you the happiest in life?

A job well done, no matter what job that is.

What’s your motivation?

Money. Money and more money. I love it and want it so much I twittered a little rap about it to the ladies not too long ago. It went somethin like this:

You betta suck dick for that money

sell yo baby for that money

rob yo neighba for that money

kill my hayta’s for that money

cuz you won’t neva be my honey

if my sad days ain’t funny

or my gloomy days sunny

with da only thing you good for 

and that’s bringin’ me money, money, money! 

Bitch.

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Hotel Rooms.

I’ve spent a lot of time in hotels. If I had to add it up, I’d say roughly 5 years of my life has been spent in hotels. Having realized that, it got me thinking of all the stuff that has gone down in those hotel rooms. Here are two little stories for you that you might find interesting.

When I was 18 I shot my first real deal movie called “Whiteboys”. We filmed on location in Chicago and Iowa. The bulk of the movie took place in Iowa so that’s where I spent the majority of my time. I can’t remember the name of the hotel, but it was somewhere in downtown Davenport. I was freestyling a lot back then, also the character I was playing Trevor, had to spit a rhyme in the movie as well.

There is a scene in the end of the film where the main character flip is running through a maze in a cornfield, getting confronted by various people. Two of those people were Stic.Man and M1 of the hip-hop group Dead Prez. So they had to kick it in Davenport for a few days while they shot their scenes.

I found out they were Vegan and told them I had some good food back in my suite. I had been in Davenport for a couple weeks at this point and had already hit up the only health-food store a million times, besides that, it was a strictly meat and milk town. I also had a nice stash of weed (back when I thought it was a good thing).

So me, Stic.Man and M1 rolled back to my room and rolled up a blunt and freestyled. It was one of the best cyphers I’ve ever been a part of. Then I went into my kitchen and made us all Tofurkey sandwiches with this amazing Dijon mustard, I say amazing because it cost like 1o$ and at the time I remembered thinking,”wow, I’ve made it, I’m buying 10$ organic mustard”.

2 years later in 2000 they dropped their first record “Let’s Get Free”. A classic, that I still listen to… especially when I’m going over plans for overthrowing our government.

Next story:

On September 10th 2001 I took a morning flight from Newark NJ to Detroit Michigan. I got to my hotel room in the late afternoon and immediately started obsessively going over my lines.

I had a screen test the next morning for the movie “8 Mile”. 

I couldn’t sleep well that night because of nerves and was up at 6 am, which was fine anyway because my screen test was starting at 8.

I took the elevator up to the floor the test was on. The production had rented a massive suite in the same hotel I was staying with the other actors to do the screen test in.

I walked in the room and was greeted by one of my favorite casting directors Mali Finn (RIP) who brought me to Curtis Hanson (the director) who introduced me to Marshall Mathers (Eminem). 

Marshall and I started talking about the scene and how he hadn’t done anything like this before. Then somebody’s assistant walked in the room and told us all to turn on the news. We did.

Marshall Mathers and I stood next to each other and watched the first plane fly into the world trade center together. We all couldn’t believe it. We shook it off as best we could, thinking it was just a terrible accident.

Me and Eminem did our scenes together. It went well.

Then the next thing I knew the news was back on and all hell broke loose.

The rest of that day was spent doing what I’m sure most of you did. Trying to get through to friends and family on the phone, panic, cry, get angry, confused, etc.

A few days later a teamster drove me and Eugene Byrd back to NYC after being stuck in Detroit for awhile.

Eugene got the part.

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shhh I’m sleeping.

That’s why I haven’t posted in five days.

Actually, that’s a lie.

I wish I had been sleeping… but really my life has been extra hard these last five days.

It’ll pass, and so will your hard times too.

*mw

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Give Love.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

                                                                                              -Martin Luther King Jr

Ain’t that the truth.  

The less self centered you are the happier you become.

It truly is better to give then to receive.

Give your love and energy to someone other then just your children or your family this holiday season. 

Blessings,

*mw

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Behind the scenes 2.

Me and Billy Crudup on the set of “Jesus’ son”. Circa 98-99. This is a good movie, check it out if you haven’t seen it.

 

Me and Schoolly D on the set of “Jesus’ Son”.

 

Me and Samantha Morton on the set of “Jesus’ Son”.

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THANKS!

For checking out my blog. It’s been two weeks now since the launch and the response has been great. For anyone who has a blog or a website you know it’s all about page views, you constantly log in and check out your stats. I mean what’s the point of talking if nobody is listening, and you all have been listening.

As this site moves forward I will continue to be silly and talk about normal bloggy type stuff, but really what I am interested in is talking about big issues as I’m sure you have already noticed. It will get serious, I may offend or push some buttons but all with the intent to create a dialogue between us. So thanks for visiting and please come back and let me know what you’re thinking.

My first interview in my interview series will drop by the end of this week, so look out for that. Also check out some of my links. There are some pretty incredible artists on that list  you should know about.

Hope you have a great day.

Peace!

*mw

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My Mother.

Talking to Hugo Chavez.

You will hear a lot more about who my mother is (and who I am) as this blog grows.

I mean, that’s the whole reason I started this damn thing.

Not just so you could see a sexy photo of my baby mama and a few of me standing next to famous people.

That just brings certain people in, then we can slowly start talking about things that really matter.

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