Brooklyn Banks Week: Rodney Torres Interview

Interview by Ted Barrow on April 18, 2007. Supplementary commentary by Rob Campbell, German Nieves, Ray Wong, and Louie Louie.


Rodney: When I used to skate the Banks, that pretty much…Rob is interrupting my session.

Rob: I used to steal niggas boards back in the day [laughter].

Rodney: You were theivin’?

Rob: Shit was crazy. Growing up, I ain’t have that much, so I couldn’t afford boards. Sometimes I’d do it by myself, sometimes with friends. It was like, dumbass niggas from Jersey or out of state would show up to the fucking Banks or whatever, and they’d go to Burger King, and leave their board there.

At Burger King or at the Banks?

Yeah, yeah. At Burger King.

Rodney: Burger King was the hang out spot after the Banks. Go to the Banks, go to Burger King, and then go to Seaport, or skate all around Water street. Then go back to the Banks. From the Banks, when it got dark, then go skate to Astor Place. Chill and skate at Astor Place, drink 40s, smoke weed, and then after that, skate to Union, do the same thing over there, and then from there skate to Midtown. All day, all night. Everyone would meet up at the Banks at noon, and skate ‘til like midnight. Then skate to Midtown and like, break night. Stay all night skateboarding. Just causing ruckus, you know? Drinking, smoking, skating. Hopefully hook up with some girls, but if not that then skate, have fun. Just doing little kid shit, you know?

What era is this?

This is like early 90s, right? Yeah. Early-to-mid 90’s. It’s not like that anymore.

Why do you think it’s not like that anymore?

Because everybody now is on some sort of agenda. Everybody’s got to film a trick for a video, everybody’s got to be all secretive, everyone’s got their own little clique of people that they roll with. I guess that back in the day everybody rolled together.

Rob: No doubt, like back in the days, if you wasn’t real, you couldn’t show up at the Banks. I see like half of these cornball ass niggas that look like Pharell and fucking shit like that, goofy asshole looking motherfuckers, like them niggas would totally get robbed for everything they got. It was like everybody that skated at the Banks knew each other.

So if you were from out of town?

It wasn’t even that. It was like, snake sessions? Oh, man. You’d get your board focused. Remember those days?

Rodney: Everybody in New York has a lot of pride in what they do and basically, it was almost like you were stepping on toes if you came out here and tried to run shit. It’s either you got your ass whooped or you got your product stolen. One or the other. It’s still kind of like that now with all the older people, you know? Skateboarding in any sense, if that’s where you grew up, it’s like you’re a part of a fucking huge family of people, a huge mafia in a sense, you know?

People would come here and try to run shit, for no reason. They tried to step on toes. They tried to fucking come up off people, and use people, in a sense where it wasn’t anything genuine.

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This Friday, in the Far-Reaching Depths of Queens

The city of New York is approximately 305 square miles. The island of Manhattan is approximately 23 square miles. The area south of 14th Street is, just maybe, what? One-sixth of that? One-eigth? Well, apparently, things happen in those remaining 282 square miles. Things worth going out to. Things that involve skateboarding.

Normally, I would not have the audacity to advocate venturing out anywhere north of Union Square, but this event is actually worth the trip on the 7 to a remote, primitive part of New York City that’s between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is being held at The Queens Museum of Art on this coming Friday, June 4th, starting at 7:15 P.M. The standout attraction of the Queens Museum of Art is a 9,335 square foot model of New York (yes, it includes those other four boroughs), that was built in 1964 by Robert Moses for the World’s Fair. It has the full city grid on it, and 895,000 individual structures updated up to 1992. Some family that owns some sort of basketball team is holding some contest nobody has ever heard of in Flushing Meadows this coming weekend, and in honor of that event, the panorama is going to be decked out and marked with over one-hundred skate spots found throughout the city, by exact pin-point location. Rodney Torres will be giving a talk on skateboarding in New York to accompany the skateboard-ified version of the panorama.

Following Rodney’s talk, at around 8 p.m., there are going to be several video screenings, the most of which you can gather from the above flyer. The overall highlight would have to be the premiere of Howard Glover’s PRE2K video, which is worth the trip alone.

Aside from that, there’s free Monster Energy Drinks (Marquez co-signed, “That shit has got me through so many miles on the interstate”), free Vitamin Water (sorry alcoholics, no free liquor), and 200 free tickets being given away for the Maloof contest (100 for Saturday, 100 for Sunday.)

The Queens Museum of Art is located just to the right on the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows / Corona Park. Take the 7 to Willet’s Point (is the stop still called Shea Stadium or is that done for?), walk across the wooden platform into the park, head towards the Unisphere, and the rest is self-explantory.

Official Event Page on the Queens Museum of Art Site

Saturday Night Links

Chris Keefe did an interview with Alex Corporan regarding his new book, Full Bleed, which is being released in New York on June 6th (only available at DQM), and worldwide/Amazon on August 10. The book is a collection of various photographers’ work surrounding skateboarders in New York, and not merely a one-photographer type deal a la Out & About. Features work by Spike Jonze, Bryce Kanights, Pepe Torres and Glen E. Friedman. There’s a really good portion of the interview where they talk about skating World Trade back when the Towers were still up. (The days when the Jersey crew & I would take the PATH from Hoboken to try to learn 5050s on the stone benches and grind around the wavy curbs right by them don’t really seem that long ago either.)

Pretty much everyone has already seen this, but Rodney got a guest board on Zoo in a “Master’s” series, or something of this sort, which commends New York O.G. skaters for throwing down all these years. Well-deserved the whole way, and it is going to be interesting so see who they choose for future boards if it turns into a series-type deal. The footage in the video is a retrospective montage, but there are a few new tricks in there. More than worth your time: “Just Cruising”, Circa-1996 “Wheels of Fortune” segment, & Rodney’s part from an early cut of Ian Reid’s Video. Also be sure to check out The Chrome Ball Incident’s Rodney post from a few months back.

Some footage of the Jersey homies: “Say ‘Queensbridge'”

Rob’s been posting Flip Cam clips over on his website every week or so. Overall highlights include HOLLYWOOD doing a “throwaway” TF line involving a feeble flip-out and E.J. giving the appropriate, seated-at-the-green-benches talk-through of the characters still striving for maintaining the authenticity of the TF.

Not related to this post of randoms, but related to life as a skateboarder, one of the most underrated video parts ever.

Quote of the Week:You know that saying, ‘If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere?’ Well, that doesn’t fucking apply to London.” – Billy Rohan

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Quartersnacks Celebrates the Decade: Volume 1


It begins today, the long winding eleven day road that will end ten years of glory and pain. The first ten after the jump.

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A New York Minute

Another one of those retro things that makes us remember the good old days when things were much simpler. Scans by Jimmy Marketti.


A two-page spread that Ted Newsome did about New York City back in 1998, featuring a pretty sick photo from the other Globe spot, that significantly less people tend to skate. [Click to enlarge].

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