The first time I had heard of Mike Obedoza was his section in “2Feet.” I wondered who this guy was with the nice front torque and top mistrial to misfit, 360 out. It was his next appearance in “Too Faded” when I learned he was an LA native out of Carson who killed all of my childhood spots while filming for his section. I’ve since gotten to know him, blade with him on numerous occasions, and call him a friend. He always has a smile on his face, regardless of the matter at hand. He keeps his cool and laughs off his troubles and frustrations (always a good thing in rollerblading where things can feel far more serious than they are). He’s always pushing himself towards new tricks, new spots, new goals, new experiences, a new day. Mike has a keen eye for minute details and finishing touches, which shows in work as both a chef and rollerblader. He puts all his effort into something until it’s done properly, all while keeping up that big grin of his.
I’d like to thank Mike for taking the time to work on this interview and hauling my gear all over the place in his truck. Let’s start this interview, shall we…
Mike, you’re well known in SoCal, if only for your modishly stylish ‘fro and ever-constant smile. For the readers who may not know you, can you give us the low down on yourself?
Raised in Carson, California, a city west of Long Beach, I completed a program at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa (NorCal) and currently work/cook at a café. Every chance I get, I shred for Xsjado, Eulogy, and Black Fabric. After dinner, I write and keep a food blog, bladingwithchefknives.com. On my travels I like to collect slide pens and photos of my feet in scenic areas.
You didn’t strike me as a chef, but I got a taste of your cooking at an art show you catered a several months ago. Seasoned baked nuts, Mexican hot chocolate, smoked salmon on top of a crusted baked bread with a dill/cream cheese, and sliced pears with a ginger glaze on puff pastry. Tasty stuff. How’d you get interested in cooking and pursuing a career in culinary arts?
In high school, my culinary skills were to simply following the recipe on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Boil macaroni till soft, drain, and stir in powdered packet. I knew that there had to be more to food than just this. While I was going to school for business management, I took a cooking class and worked in a kitchen. Chefs, like bladers, live on the edge. In the kitchen, fire and flames ignite as oil jumps out of saute pans (I probably have the same amount of burn scars as I have blade marks.) It’s almost guaranteed to deliver a slice with the overuse of a foot-long chef knife. Being a blader has made me immune to the sight of blood. These culinary artists bring out their best work possible, without question, no excuses allowed. As a blader you have to give it your all, or else you’ll clip a barbwire fence. After a cooking service, it was like landing a gap. I wanted to be a part of that. Making something that I could share and experience with anyone, just felt right. I found something equally as exciting as blading. There aren’t many Blader Chefs. We exist though.
Of the dishes you cook, which are Obe specialties?
Since I cook a lot of savory dishes for work, I also like to bake. So in my free time I go for something sweet. A dessert I like to make is a S’more ice-cream pie. Graham cracker pie crust filled with a home-made Chocolate ice-cream with marshmallow fluff swirled in. Then it is topped with another layer of marshmallows that are brulee’d to add the actual campfire roasted S’more flavor.
I forget the exact quote but someone said rollerbladers don’t eat like athletes, they eat like rockstars. We’re always on the move and usually about the cheap eats, which aren’t particularly healthy meals. When you’re out blading, do you try to eat healthy?
I try. I could definitely be better about it though. I’m a believer in that too much of anything is bad. I’ll have an In-N-Out Burger one day and make up for it the next day with something fresh, organic, and sometimes vegan. A glass of wine or a bottle of beer has been known to reduce chances of cardiovascular problems. Also, people who drink live longer in comparison to abstainers. Foyt wine makes some pretty good chardonnay. I’ll make sure to have one a day to keep healthy. It’s excessive use that hurts the body.
At that art show, you mentioned your view on blading is like cooking in someone else’s kitchen — you don’t have your favorite saute pan, knives, or bowl that you’re comfortable with, but you improvise and make due with what’s on hand. It’s about making the best of any given situation. Could you elaborate more on that?
A kitchen doesn’t always have the right mixing bowl or the right pan for the job. I’ll have to adapt to my environment, blading or cooking. In a fast-paced atmosphere, like the kitchen, I don’t have time to think about what’s wrong with the situation, go complain about it to an adult, and hope that someone remedies it. Growing up, I didn’t have much, so I made the most with the little that I had. If a blade spot has a crack in the run-up, a wall blocking the rail, or a metal wire above the ledge, I don’t give a fuck. I’ll blade it. At the least I’ll try, and hopefully find a way around it. It’s about using that imperfection to your advantage and making that rad.
What was it like growing up in Carson with names like Ranier Piramide, Tat Nasu, Steve Cortes, and Ryan Santos?
When I First met Ranier and Tat, I had to warm up to how good they were. I’d clam up, go to the other side of the park and do soul grinds when they weren’t looking. Cortes was one of the bladers that kept away from them too. Him and I got along instantly. Santos came at the tail end of the Carson Legacy, he was the best kept secret in the city next door.
On the weekends we’d get out of the hometown on blade trips. Ranier, the Gladiator, would normally drive, so it was his choice on where to eat, usually it’d be Carl’s Jr (otherwise known as Hardee’s in other states). He would order the BBQ sandwich and ask for two more BBQ sauces on the side. Tat would humbly go to Subway across the street (fast food wasn’t his type of place), but he’d return to eat his sandwich with us. Cortes was infamous for sneaking a wrapper or napkin into your straw when you weren’t looking. It was a funny joke, watching someone’s shocked reaction after sucking up a wet piece of paper instead of liquid. Sucked if it happened to you. Santos would normally be the target of choice, the rookie of the group. After the meal, we’d sit and talk trash for thirty more minutes about who actually has gotten their fingers wet. We’d then leave the restaurant and the Gladiator would end up fist fighting someone before leaving the parking lot. Ranier isn’t one to start a fight, trouble just likes to follow him. After all of this we’d go to the blade park and I’d try to keep up with some of the freshest styles in the game. If something was done stiff or if I didn’t grab my fishbrain, I’d hear ridicule from all four. They performed like professionals, and didn’t even know it. They made blading look easy.
Now that you’re older and have been blading with the next generation of Carson bladers (better known as the “Carson Babies”), what’s it like being in the same position as your mentors?
I wouldn’t call me a mentor, I’m only here to open up the doors to let the babies see how fun blading is. I believe it’s only fair to give back to the next generation since my elders allowed me to tagalong and experience all of the amazing things that the inline world has to offer. I love Rollerblading, the adventures, the thrill, and most importantly — the people: old, young, and even the babies.
Changing tracks somewhat, a while ago there was that five-car session at pops ledges. My friend Abel was doing your fastslide tap makio/back torque tap fishbrains. After he saw you do it in “Too Faded,” he made it his mission to learn it and try it on just about everything. What does it feel like knowing people are into your blading?
It’s hard to believe at first. I freeze up and get speechless. I’m just a regular dude. I don’t think of myself being any better than the average Joe. I’m from the bottom. Thank you Abel, and to anyone else who supports my art, from the bottom of my heart. I really mean that. “I do it all for you.” — Aceyalone
We’re all trying to refine our blading; learn new things, try new things, hopefully not get broken in the process.
What tricks, spots or approaches have you been your focus lately?
One word: Ridiculous.
This past year has been a good one for you, with sections in “Green” and a mini-view in “Valo4Life.” What do we have to look forward to in 2011?
Hopefully more Food For Feet Columns on bladeordie.com. Erick Rodriguez and Rachard Johnson’s 9 to 5 Mixtape should be released soon. I’ve heard them talk about making a 9 to 5 movie, but I don’t know much information on that. I blade with Brandon Negrete a lot, so check out his stuff on Xsjado.com. He’s due for a movie, but I don’t have any information on that stuff either. One of the original people I started blading with, Joel (Boogerneck) still has a couple of ideas up his sleeve. Him and I have fun making online stuff. They need to make an award for background props. I’m trying to get the best background dude award. Look out for me in the back of peoples’ clips. Ha, I’m kidding. If you want updates, check out my blog. I’ll keep you posted.
Any last words, shout outs, or words of wisdom Obe Wan Kenobi?
Anyone who has hooked me up with product to keep a poor kid doing what he loves to do. Xsjado, Eulogy, Black Fabric, and Foyt Wines. Thank you Robyn for being my red-marker and shoutouts to anyone I consider family: Pops, Mama, and Ates. The Obedozas in the Philippines, the Long Beach family, Carson, Rollerbangers, TwG, Black betty, the Valo team, 6ix Park Grill, the lovely ladies at the Oak Creek Cafe, and Thank You to anyone who comes to the movie premieres and digs doing fastplants to fishbrains.
If life hands you lemons, find some strawberries and make Strawberry-Lemonade. Don’t forget to share.
Interview and Photos by Jonathan Labez