We could have been in St. Petersburg, Florida, or in Chicago… I don’t remember, but Jon tells me, as we’re about to get onto this escalator, to just go with it. As we’re in a confined spaced for a short period of time, with no way of getting off, and stuck with the people around us (or are they stuck with us?), Jon starts on his shtick. “Man, I’m so pissed at my girlfriend. Last night she just starts going off at me — get a job, stop being lazy, take a shower, blah, blah, blah. All I wanted to do was finish my case of beer, but no, she has to ruin my night. When I pushed her, I didn’t mean for her to fall down the stairs. But what really pisses me off is that then she has the nerve to tell me she’s pregnant! I couldn’t help but punch her in the stomach!” This is obviously a joke, but the look on the people who were stuck with us for a little bit longer was priceless! It was something we’d do quite often, just to get a laugh. Jon’s a very funny guy, not just with stupid humor like that, he’s one of the smarter people you’ll meet. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad time with him… wait, nope, never! I’ve always had a respect for his views on politics and life. He’s not just a skate this and talk about skate that guy, he likes to talk about everything. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and usually a big smile on his face.
Lets hit the Midwest and see what this Minnesotan is up to. — Opalek
Minnesota has always been a great Midwest scene. Describe it back in the early ‘90s?
Minnesota rollerbladers had a strong bond in the early ‘90s. When you saw another rollerblader on the street or at a park you’d go over and say what’s up. We had a core group who always went skating together but were constantly into meeting new people and skating new places. There was very little media awareness/exposure, so making edits/filming/getting a sequence photo rarely entered into relationships. There weren’t any “crews” or 10-page fights on message boards. We even got along fine with skateboarders. There was skating and innovation. That’s not to say innovation wasn’t all over (Omaha, California, New York) but early-‘90s Minnesota skaters have many claims: the backslide (Shane Nelson/Steve Thomas), the fastslide (Shane Nelson), the “reverse-royale” (full torque/farv — John Schmidt), naming the acid soul (Dan Jensen) and unity (Steve Thomas), first sweaty down a kinked rail and first misty-flip at a comp (me). I suppose the biggest issue we had then was if someone got a girlfriend and wasn’t skating every day, or if someone wasn’t driving enough.
MANUEL BILLIRIS AUSTRALIAN VERT SKATER. Definitely one of the earlier dudes of Australian power house vert skaters back i nthe day. He was sponsored by Oxygen and had a pro whell/shirt with Cozmo…back when crowds cheered for vert skaters…oh man this has got me thinking about Crank Straps heel straps. Anyways he had a pro skate with Oxygen-pretty much the Argons with a green buckles etc…