It seems like the reoccurring topic in skateboarding this far into 2012 is budget cuts and personnel changes. Some of my very close friends and your favorite skaters are being released from contracts because there simply isn't enough money to go around. I was rather surprised to learn recently that Baker pro, Braydon Szafranski, was among those that severed ties this year. As of the first of the year he no longer rode for Emerica Shoes. Emerica is a very family-type brand/team and they embody what a brand should be. But that embodiment doesn't change a recession and so I find myself discussing future plans with Braydon, possibly plans outside of skateboarding. Luckily we needn't worry about that yet -- he told me he has shoe offers on the table but is just taking this time to enjoy "dating" before getting back into another committed relationship.
ESPN.com: What happened with Emerica?
Szafranski: It was one of those things where we both went our separate ways. They had to make room for new kids and I was off on my own path and I felt like after 11 years it was time for a change and to see something new. The whole thing is that we're still really close. That's still my family. I still go on trips with Miner and everybody else. They have my back, I have theirs for life. We both had different views on different things and I needed to go see what was out there besides one thing for the rest of my life.
Do you have a new home already?
No, I don't have one right now. At the moment I'm enjoying life. Right now I'm wearing a pair of Converse, yesterday was a pair of Vans and the day before that was some Supras. I actually get to wear everything I ever wanted to wear, all those shoes I've been staring at for years and thinking, 'yeah, that'd be awesome to get a trick in.'
We're in a major recession, does that worry you at all?
Definitely. I've been going through some stressful moments. It's in my mind. I have offers thankfully, I'm just not sure yet where to call home. Everything is up in the air. But where we are and where the country is a lot of companies in skateboarding are hurting. It's an intimidating moment. Thank god my mom married an accountant and taught me to save my money and I have a savings account.
Thank god my mom married an accountant and taught me to save my money.
And it's not to say where you came from was that safe; they just cut eS Footwear.
I know. I'm worried about where the whole brand is going. They just lost éS and I heard a lot of the Altamont team got dropped. I'm just hoping for the best for Sole Tech in general. It's Sole Tech -- they'll pull through. Emerica is a huge, great company but it's just a scary thought of where everything might go.
Where do you see it going in the short-term future?
I really don't know and I've been trying not to think about it because of how intimidating the economy is. There are some serious heavy-hitters that are available right now.
As a result of this are you skating like a teenager again?
Yeah. It's been good in multiple ways. It's a reality check that has gotten me addicted to my skateboard again. I just needed a change and now the skateboard is everything in my life right now.
You were banged up over these recent years, right?
Yeah, I had three knee surgeries.
You're halfway to Dollin.
I know, right. What's funny is Dustin just arrived in LA this morning out of nowhere. He left the country for three months and just showed up today at 7 a.m., didn't tell anybody. Right now we're working on a new Baker video. Andrew just dropped it on us and said, "We need a video out by October." Everyone kind of tripped out like, "We just finished Shake Junt in November." And he was like, "Well, we really need it out by October." Everybody is just on the grind right now. Every single weekend is Skate Tank weekend, go as hard as you can. Everyone is at the skatepark training. Baker Boys Distribution just built a TF in the factory so everyone has been there every single day. It's cool because I enjoy deadlines. It makes me more motivated, with a purpose to be alive.
At any point after the break up did you ever think of a job outside of skateboarding?
Let's not talk about that. That's not really a bad subject but I have started to think, 'You are 28 and the average skateboarder doesn't last til 40.' The thing is I've been spoiled my whole life with skateboarding. We've gotten to travel and see the whole world that I can't picture myself not traveling. I couldn't see myself working at my skateshop like you. When kids want to go skate I want to go with them! I don't like to miss out on good times.
Maybe you can be an airline pilot.
I was already thinking about that because I love planes and flying. The only thing is right now I have purple hair and a face tattoo; I don't know if there's any airlines that think I qualify.
Do you think you're employable with a Bat face tattoo?
I probably wouldn't leave our industry, which I love so much, so I think I could get a job but any other industry a lot of people wouldn't hire me.
No chance of being elected for President?
No, I don't think so.
Would you ever get rid of the face tattoo?
No. There have been moments when I look in the mirror and say, 'Wow, that's pretty wild.' But it's me. I can't see me without it and if I did get rid of it I'm just that that guy that's getting rid of tattoos. If you get something, you know it's there for life. Do it or don't do it.