If you had it all, the fame, the money, the life, everything that you can imagine that comes along with succeeding in your field of choice. Do you think you would be able to walk away from it to find yourself? That’s exactly what Gershon Mosley did. We tracked down Gershon to see what he’s been up to, get his perspective on the industry, and get the real story behind the Andrew Reynolds incident. It’s definitely not the typical trajectory.
48 Blocks: I’m gonna start with Blind I guess. You were one of the top pros on Blind then all of sudden, you switched to Inc. What was the story behind that?
Gershon: I think it was kind of more of a business decision that they had to make. The China wood was one issue and then how I see things in life and how the business was run… we clashed. It was in their best interest to kind of get me out of there because they were trying to go in a different direction. Skateboarding is what I love to do and it’s not something that I see as a business, even though I know that it is my business. I refuse to do things that don’t feel right ethically to me. I’ve seen how skateboarding has changed and the attitudes about it have changed due to being too business minded about what we love. It was a decision that had to be made because they were doing stuff that at a point would have become an issue. Also, growing up there were a lot of issues that I didn’t allow a lot of people to understand… so there was stuff that I had to deal with on my own. I was already not really happy with the camp…. not the riders, but I had issues with particular people that was more personal on my side because I took skateboarding personal… it’s what I love.
48 Blocks: So with Inc, were you a part of starting that company, were you just a rider, how did that happen?
Gershon: No, Chris Lambert had initiated that with Syndrome. Pretty much, Status was being folded in… I came in on the deal a couple months after it was made. I went into it thinking, “we’re gonna make skateboarding.” A skateboarding company instead of a political stance within skateboarding. With that company… some of the graphics we had say in, but it was more driven by their artist. He did a good job, but it wasn’t the way that it was initially supposed to be… from the way that Lambert explained it to me. I didn’t have a part in creating it, I came on board because of Lambert and then Kanten and Zitzer. Those are guys that I respect, I’ve seen them skate and enjoyed their skateboarding. I was thinking, “this should work if the people work with us.” That was the problem with it, the people that were the corporate part wanted it to be “this” and we wanted it to be a free flowing thing, something where we could be creative. Then two or three months after I got on, they started Hellrose… which was basically what the industry wanted. That’s what they were trying to make us into initially, but we weren’t wearing the clothing, we didn’t represent the lifestyle. When I saw that happening, I knew it was sort of cut… that they were trying to kill Inc, but Inc actually lived longer than that company. They gave those guys creative control over the company, but what did it become? The same thing as most other companies. You give creative control to people that aren’t creative, not saying that the team as a whole wasn’t creative… but they were doing the same thing that all the other companies were doing and we were looking at how we felt in our hearts, what do we wanna do? Low and behold, what happens when you want to be creative? You run into brick walls. It was a crazy contradiction – the way that it was run.
48 Blocks: So, you’ve been underground for a long time. What have you been up to since Inc went under?
Gershon: Well, during the time that I was riding for Inc and I realized what was gonna happen; I was still riding for Globe as well. I quit Globe due to some situations that I wasn’t happy with. I moved up to Seattle to get away from Orange County, to get away from the industry. The industry felt restrictive. It constricted around me when it came down to image. I’m not hip hop, like ultra hip hop or I’m not like punk rock… I’m in between, I’m a skateboarder and I’m a human being and I dress the way I feel. When I looked around in the industry and thought, “where would I fit if I were to ride for another company?” You know, there’s certain companies that I see… like it would be tight to ride for Krooked because of Gonz, but connections… and I wasn’t really putting out a lot, getting a lot of coverage. I decided that it was better for me to just go up, so I went up to Seattle. During the time that I was in Orange County, I was just in my room more than anything when I was home. I would paint and write and do different things, get on my computer and edit. I was consumed with that. That’s what really manifested in Seattle more when I went up there. I did some paintings and had a couple little showings at 35th. Before I left there was Iconic, they had a little art gallery and did a couple shows where I showed my t-shirts and art pieces which was cool. I was becoming more dimensional, I wasn’t just a skateboarder… but of course I was still skateboarding and I was still filming. I was living with Brent (Howard) and we’d go out and film. I have a lot of stuff and I actually have a video that I made that’s about Seattle, my time in Seattle and how I was feeling during my time in Seattle because with the editing and writing; I started doing spoken word… I incorporated everything. My videos are more my art and my life.
48 Blocks: You as opposed to a company.
Gershon: Yeah, and as opposed to… it may not be what most people want. Most people want all the skateboarding shit but are like, “he’s talking too much, what’s he talking about, what’s he saying?” Some people may not like the music because most of it is hip hop, but then on the other hand I have another video that’s coming out that has a different… you know, it’s just a feel. I put out a feel that I have at this time, but ultimately there’s one underlying message. But usually it’s the same message… do what you love. You just gotta do what you feel is right for you no matter what. If you’re working a job and there’s something that you love to do, you’re gonna have to nurture that in some way shape or form. You see people that don’t have time to do anything… their art is extreme, it’s amazing. For the little time they get to do it, they’re great at it. I’ve seen some skateboarders that work ridiculous jobs, but for how ever little time you get to see them skate… it’s amazing. Look at Ray Barbee, his music then you watch him skate and it’s just like music. His soul is shown throughout whatever he does.
48 Blocks: You’ve been in the industry for a long time. I remember early Santa Cruz ads and seeing you on tour with Powell in the early / mid 90’s. Now you’ve completely shied away from it. Do you wanna comment or give your opinion on the industry at all since you’ve been around for so long?
Gershon: The riding has got a lot more consistent. People are traveling the world, so you see how big the world is… you see great things. At the same time, I see how skateboarding became a business in the minds of the skateboarders growing up. When I was growing up, skateboarders were outcasts. A couple generations pass and skateboarding’s cool. A lot of people are growing up looking at it as a business, like okay…”I’m gonna turn pro in like say a year.” They have a schedule for it. I never had a calendar for how things were gonna turn out as far as my life in skateboarding. Skateboarding was like… every time I got a chance to go and shine, that’s what I tried to do. I wasn’t trying to represent an image that I fixed for myself, so my tricks would change. They’d rotate. I’d use certain tricks always, like tre flips, kickflips and stuff… but how I did them or what I did them on wasn’t always the same thing. The spot became how I skated. On big vert walls, probably no flip tricks are gonna go down (laughs) so I’ll have to blunt it or try to do an ollie or something. Something that would be different, something that would be a challenge to myself… not a challenge to anybody else. When I would go out, I would be in my zone. I would notice what other people were doing, but if anybody has ever seen me skate… I usually focus on what I’m doing and I’m not all social about it because when I started skating I was by myself. There wasn’t a group of friends. I didn’t have a peer group or friendly competition… so certain things like that, I have a different view on it.
48 Blocks: So, are you pretty much just skating for yourself now, any chance of Gershon returning?
Gershon: Well, I have a video out… I did it a couple years ago. It defines the ten years with Dwindle. The Globe footage that wasn’t seen. I didn’t have real video parts during that whole time. I was waiting for the A-Team video part, I was waiting for the Blind video part… I didn’t get it. During the time they were switching riders or the riders weren’t skating… so I didn’t get to put it out. Then towards the end they wanted my best stuff and I’m thinking,”but I’m only going to get this part in the middle, I’m not gonna be able to shine.” So I didn’t give my best stuff to Globe, I was waiting for my Blind part… so I got let down in that sense. Then right around that time somebody saw some of my footage and wanted to do a part with me. When it came down to doing the part, the guy was supposed to film it with me but he kind of rested on me giving him this footage. I was gonna give him some of it, but I wasn’t gonna give him my best stuff… cause the way he was putting it out, a lot of people would have seen it, but it wouldn’t have been as grand as if I was on a board company and the company presented it. At that point I decided to make my own video because I had been editing and it was an ongoing learning process… and also to be able to put it out the way that I wanted it to be seen. I had videos… like The Reason, that was a great video part and I had some say in the way it went down with the music and stuff which I was grateful for cause Ty did a great job on it; but it wasn’t ultimately my vision. In the past like Suburban Diners, those were close because they had to work with us – you know with Powell. Ultimately it was someone else’s hand that guided the way that it turned out. I couldn’t just do a part that had like… that flowed. I’d either go to the end, or start out mellow then go to a peak. I didn’t make it flow the way I wanted to. Most video parts nowadays, you got like Zero where it’s just like flatlining…banger, banger, banger, banger, banger. There’s usually no lines or no flow. Not to say that’s how overall their videos are, there’s some guys that have more bangers and there’s some guys that actually have some substance, Ratray – he’s got flow. Does Ratray ride for Zero still?
48 Blocks: Yeah, he’s ill, they got Keegan Sauder…
Gershon: Yeah, I haven’t been keeping up with who’s who now, but I’m saying when I think about some of the videos during the time when I was thinking about putting out a video. I realized that a lot of people would watch my video and be like, “ehhhhhh, it’s not like shock value.” I also didn’t have that personality where I’m throwing that dummy out of a building to get people to be like, “crash” or whatever so I could get a laugh.
48 Blocks: It was just straight skating.
Gershon: Yeah, straight skating but it has my spoken word… my thoughts. A complex message instead of, “oh, I think life is great.”
48 Blocks: Any favorite time period or favorite memory?
Gershon: Thinking about skateboarding, I’ve traveled the world. I’ve skated some great spots but really, going back to San Jose recently –going back and looking at the old spots and seeing how a lot of them aren’t knobbed and lots of them aren’t destroyed cause a lot of people aren’t skating these spots. I spent… I mean that’s where I started skating. I go back and I just realize that that was my best time of skateboarding. My favorite time as far as skateboarding went, because I had roots there… and then the curb cuts are tight (laughs) and you know the hydrants and it has all these ledges.
48 Blocks: Speaking of San Jose, I remember that you and Marc Johnson were really tight for awhile… well you were on the same company and there was always footage of you guys skating together. Do you ever still talk to Marc? He’s like a skate god right now while you have completely left the industry… it’s an interesting dichotomy.
Gershon: We don’t talk, but we’re Capricorns and what I’ve realized about Capricorns is that I can not see someone for a long time but then like after catching up it’s like being back to square one. As long as I know that this person is someone that I remember as far as values then I know I can trust that person. Marc was a person that I knew I could trust because he never backstabbed. His skateboarding was his skateboarding, he wasn’t trying to compete. We were like-minded in that sense.
48 Blocks: Are you still living out in Seattle?
Gershon: I’m living in Compton. Some of the issues that I was talking about… that I didn’t allow skateboarding to coincide with is my family and my friends. Part of the reason why people become great at things is because they’re running from other things or not dealing with other things. You just focus on this thing… you could say skateboarding was my drug.
48 Blocks: Your escape.
Gershon: Yeah, my escape… times were hard at points, it was unbearable. You’re at home and things aren’t the way you want them to be… you’re like, “well shit, I can go out and skate down the street.” That’s why snowboarding or other things aren’t as appealing cause you can’t just go do it… get the body high and feel good about accomplishments. But socially, my family… I’ve gone back to them. The Seattle thing was kind of an awakening. I was in Orange County, that’s when it started… but I had to get away because of identity, it’s like “okay, I’m around all these people that are trying to identify with each other… but I need to go somewhere where people are cool with what they were.” Going up there, I met a lot of people that were real. They didn’t try to bank off the fact that I was a name or things like that. Most of the people treated me as a person, they got to know me as a person as opposed to just making assumptions about me. So that helped me to go back home and deal with the issues… because I began to feel more whole as opposed to pulled apart by the industry. When you’re around a bunch of people that are about who you know and what you got… then how can you be who you are?
48 Blocks: So is your focus now more with the art, the spoken word… I mean obviously you still skate, but how big a part of your life is skating now?
Gershon: My thought patterns sort of evolved because of skateboarding, doing certain tricks kind of elevates your thought pattern. As I’m writing or something like that… I think about skateboarding, it’s my natural flow. I learned it on four wheels, but I’m learning it speaking… I’m just evolving. In my evolution, skateboarding was a good part… so it will always be a part of what I do. I go out and skate as much as I can, but there will be times where I’m on my computer or I’m painting so a week might go by… two weeks might go by because I’m caught up in this process that I have to complete. That’s my ultimate thing, when I start out with something I have to complete it. Fame wasn’t something that I chose, so I never felt that I had to nurture it. The focus is the message, what made me… what allowed me to be who I am is what I’m trying to give back.
48 Blocks: One of the things that I’ve been trying to do with this site… part of the reason why I started it was to address some of the rumors that I see and read. What’s up with the Andrew Reynolds story, do you want to give an official version of that?
Gershon: I’ve heard a lot of different things myself. What it came down to initially was this 900 Degrees tour. It was sponsored by Hardcore in Australia. It was a Globe / Birdhouse / Girl… like Guy, Heath Kirchart, Reynolds was on this trip. It was at least nine people from different camps. So we’re in Australia and there’s this… well how is this website?
48 Blocks: You can say whatever you want, it’s fully independent.
Gershon: All right, well the story that I was told by another person on this tour was that they hooked up the group with a half ounce of weed. Reynolds ended up with the half ounce… I mean it wasn’t a long period of time, but I recall maybe two, maybe three nights that he’d bring a joint for maybe like four people that we smoked… and he had the sack. (laughs) So, I seen the sack later… it couldn’t have been any longer than a week cause we weren’t out there that long. The sack was like… he must have been puffin tough, like chain smoking, and not really sharing. So when I saw that, I was like “damn.” We really weren’t good friends, we really didn’t know each other. A lot of what people don’t understand is that we’re all thrown together. We come from different walks of life… just because we skateboard people think that we’re like good friends with each other. I wasn’t his enemy, but at the same time there’s pleasures in life… and there’s expectations. You’re expecting something and it doesn’t come out that way… it makes you ask a question that makes someone else uncomfortable. So, I was just like, “what was up with that,” just kind of like jokey, I said, “you need to quite smoking.” I didn’t elaborate, but I was like you smoke way too much for your own good cause we’re all still young at this time and he’s probably like five years younger than I am. He didn’t say anything, it was all kind of in passing how it was said.Okay, then we’re at the trade show in Long Beach where they first started Baker…we’re going to a Globe dinner with a few other Globe representatives. He’s got the kids with him… they looked like a pyramid with him in the middle of it. It was basically like a kiddy company and I was like, “whoa, this guy’s trying to lead a gang.” I’m saying this based on what happens next. He comes up and confronts me and I have these people with me. This is business and he comes up talking about something personal that he didn’t deal with like five years before. He was showing off for these kids, he comes and is like “Gershon, remember when we were in Australia and you said that I should stop smoking, what did you mean by that?” So, I’m caught off guard cause we never really talked. I said how I felt and that’s where we left it. So he must of been going over this for a long time. Anyway, I go to pat him on his shoulder like “it’s whatever,” like it’s all good. He throws his arms up like, “what.” I grew up in Compton, I took it like it meant this guy wants it, but I’m with these people and thinking, “I can’t represent this.” So, I let it go. Then the day before the next trade show, we’re at the City Stars premier. He was making a nuisance in there, they gave the kid alcohol. That’s some of the problems with people, they’re thinking that they can be that star and be that party guy. Too much alcohol and whatever drugs he was doing, they left the theatre before most other people… they went across the street to the bar. The bar had a patio and as I was walking down the street… you had to pass the patio to get to the door. I walked by just being oblivious, because I have a way of not paying attention to things that don’t matter to me. Not saying that he as a person doesn’t matter to me, but I wasn’t expecting to get into an altercation. I’m with some friends from Reno, we walk by and my friend’s like, “Reynolds is flipping you off going fuck Gershon.” I’m like, “what?” Why would he do that, then I think back and I’m like, “oh.” So, I go into the bar and he’s in the corner of the patio and all the Piss Drunks are around him… Strickland and those dudes. I walk in the middle of them and ask him does he have a problem. He says yes, so I hit him, which of course isn’t right… it’s just words. But in school I had a bully, so I just can’t let some guy that can’t bully me bully me. This dude could physically beat me up when I was in school, but that dude…it was like, “he’s trying to punk me because of something socially…. because of this industry?” I didn’t come into this to put up with any sort of skateboard hierarchy cause that’s what I was getting away from by skateboarding. Maldonado grabbed me and pulled me back. I turned around and was about to hit him, but he was like no… he was just trying to stop the fight. He pulled me back a couple feet and Reynolds is on the side, he must have stumbled and fell. People speculate that’s how he lost his tooth, but I hit him square in his mouth so I know what’s up. Jokingly or whatever, the facts are the facts… he asked for it. You don’t flex on nobody that you don’t know unless you mean to actually deal with it.
48 Blocks: The story that I heard was that he called you the n-bomb and that’s what set it off.
Gershon: Yeah, I heard something about that…but the person that told me that said that this was after the fact that the n-bomb went down. He didn’t say nothing to my face like that.
48 Blocks: Any last words, what’s next for Gershon?
Gershon: Just art and collaborations. I’d like to work with as many people as possible. That’s why through the industry I worked with a lot of different companies because stagnation is like… not to say that I wouldn’t find a home eventually, but with a lot of companies there’s a lot of stagnation… the people that are afraid of achieving or going further, a lot of things… I try to stay away from being heavily labeled. I like the whole idea of what Krooked is doing with the guest boards. I did this art board for this company called Make Shift out in Texas. I kind of like to do stuff like that, but hey if there’s a company that wants to hook me up and do stuff together… it’s not to say that I won’t. I’ll also do my own thing on the side. I have the Obtuse Concept… it’s kind of my perspective, it’s what I use to label my art… overall my art is my paintings, my skateboarding… just spreading it around really.