Long before parents started seeing skateboarding as a lucrative beauty pageant for their kids to get rich and famous it was a refuge for America's domestically destitute, the huddled masses of broken homes. The majority of skaters in generations past found skateboarding because they had nowhere else to go, no one that would accept them. In some ways, things never change.
Last year when the Element team rolled through Princeton, NJ I got to meet Julian Davidson and, like his cousin Nick Garcia, he killed it. I thought, 'Man, it must be amazing for their two dads (who are brothers) to trip out on their kids traveling the world together.' Little did I know that Julian's dad has been in jail for four years and has never even seen a published photo of his son.
I like guys like Julian and stories like his, partly because I can relate to them and mostly because it's a matter of needing skateboarding to survive, not wanting it to buy a fancy car.
What are you doing up in San Jose?
I'm up here with a bunch of Element guys. We're just on a skate trip and a catalog shoot. I just flew up for a couple days to shred with all the dudes.
Oh, I thought you guys were up there working on another video already.
Yeah, we are. There's an am video that's supposed to come out in a year from now and we're filming for that.
Nice. It seems like the ams: you, Evan Smith, your cousin Nick and Boo Johnson are changing the direction and perception of Element.
Those guys are definitely changing the direction; I wouldn't say I am. These guys are holding it down, doing all the gnar. I'm just along for the ride.
Why? You suck?
I don't know. I'm definitely not changing anything.
I thought you were planning on full cab flipping the Belmont nine-stair?
Damn! I wish. That might have been done already but I wish. That's one of my favorite sets of stairs ever. I love the Belmont nine.
Why don't you marry them?
Dude, I probably should look into that.
You and your cousin are both handsome gentlemen, who gets more girls?
Nick, for sure, man. Definitely. He's just a handsome grown man. A good-looking, charming man.
Your dad's are brothers, do they trip out that their boys get to see the world together?
My dad has been in jail for a while. He calls me every once in a while just to check up on me and see how I'm doing and he does trip out. I haven't really showed him any video parts or skating but I think he knows that I go and travel and he's stoked for me. My uncle, Nick's dad, I see him all the time and he's super rad and he's so psyched for us. He bought me my first skateboard so it must be crazy for him to see me and Nick took it this far.
Damn, that's got to be tough not having your old man around to see your success.
Yeah, it's pretty weird. I try not to ask him when he's getting out or guilt him out or anything. I'm sure he feels bad not being around.
What's he in for, if you don't mind me asking?
No, no worries at all. It was a violation of his probation but before that it was drug and alcohol abuse and getting caught with it over and over. He had a lot of DUIs and he did sketchy stuff in the stock market, which I can't exactly explain because I don't know the full story. The last time I saw him was Christmas, four years ago.
So he hasn't seen anything? None of your footage or photos or anything?
No, he hasn't really been there for that but I hope when he gets out to kick it with him. I can't wait to see him again.
Has Nick's dad been watching out for you while he's away?
Yeah, he's really been my father figure and I've really been influenced by Nick. Nick has always been my big brother and his dad has always been like my dad and looked out for me and calls me all the time to check up on me and see how I'm doing. I think he takes that as his job.
When you have addiction in the family you tend to either go down the same road or do the polar opposite. How are you handling it?
It's definitely an eye opener for me because my mom has an alcohol problem, too so it makes me more aware of what I'm doing and what my limits are so I don't get too deep into all that stuff. I've definitely learned from watching them struggle and seeing my mom lose a lot of things she used to have. I don't want to go down that road.
What have you got lined up for 2011?
We've got this Element am video and I'm trying to shoot an interview. I've been shooting with John Bradford in Long Beach for a Skateboarder magazine interview. And me and Nick are trying to shoot a joint interview and hopefully I'll go on some rad trips, too.