rodneymullen rodneymullen

32 posts   336,120 followers   24 followings

Rodney Mullen 

Part 2: @benharper continues to play and produce, touring over half the year. Yet from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House, Ben will disappear between tour busses or wander into the night to work on some new trick. Around 2009, he sent a clip of his first kickflip, eventually progressing to laser’s a few years ago. Then, suddenly it stopped. Knowing one another well, I left it alone as the question hung in the air. Finally, he showed me how his vertebra had fused, wrestling with the idea of surgery—yearning to skate. That was about 1 year ago, when he went under the knife. After inserting this contraption in the base of his spine, he told me he’d pick up where he left off. And man did he. Check out this stationary laser, which to me is that much harder without being able to get behind it… In the words of Lance Mountain: “Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder: not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder.”

Part 1: @benharper grew up working on every kind of instrument at his grandparent’s music shop, in Claremont. Also designated as a museum, the Folk Music Center surrounded him with artists and musicians of every culture—even some legends. Ben also lived near another Mecca—Pipeline Skatepark—which wielded a kindred influence that never left him; immersed in skating and playing his slide guitar, Ben quickly started cutting out his own path. By the early 90’s, skating took a backseat as he packed venues across the globe, ultimately earning 3 Grammy’s—and still counting. Then for whatever reason, Ben turned back to his skating with a vengeance at the ripe age of 40. That’s about the time we became friends, which has given me a privileged vantage into not only how fast he learns, but to witness the genuine humility and poise with which he comports himself and treats others. A rare dignity, indeed.

Of the most humbling honors skating has bestowed is being chosen to be someone’s Make-A-Wish. Of the dozen or so I’ve experienced—through various foundations—it’s always the same: During the days prior, I toss & turn at night, having no idea what to say to a dying child reaching out in his (almost assuredly) final days of life. I’ve just lived my life as a skater—nothing more. Which I’m terrified they will quickly find out, and then maybe end up worse-off than before. This is the first time it was for an adult; his name was David. By the time he’d gotten word that he only had a few months to live, it was too late to even bother with formal channels. Yet through his brother’s determination combined with more than one coincidence, we arranged to meet in a coffee shop on September 7th near(ish) his home in DC.

As his wife, Dee, wheeled David to our table, we caught sight of one another; a long minute later, we sat in silence with eyes glassed-over. Suddenly, he spoke with a grinning frustration: “Do you know how many hours I spent, working on kickflips?” This ignited a lightness, laughing at all the shinners and struggles of learning the same basic tricks. Which led to sharing the nuanced gifts of some of my peers (Hensley!) that makes them seemingly superhuman, while connecting to the funny quirks that makes them real and so truly Human. Then came streams of the perfectly mundane that eddied and flowed, as if sweeping us into a river of all the shared little peculiarities that connect us not just as skaters, but as people.

Maybe six years ago, Ben (Harper) told me about @dhaniharrison 's idea of shooting in Steven Sebring’s rig, then introduced us. From that initial meeting to the final scoring of Liminal, working so closely together gave me the opportunity to see Dhani’s rare gifts on display and cemented a strong bond. What’s so distinctive about Dhani’s artistic approach is his technical aptitude. Yet his degree in physics & design (Brown U) only scratches the surface. What undergirds and supercharges that is something so much more: Growing up surrounded by many of the most luminous minds of Rock & Roll—Dhani’s natural talent was imprinted with an oddly preternatural musical scope and acumen. There is a synergy to it all that factors into his genius.

Yet for as magnetic as his Dhani is with such a loaded background and learning, it’s his genuine character and grinningly impish spirit along with the decades of shared history through skating that makes the friendship seem life-long. Though the Bones Brigade doc touches upon it, you see it from his Rip City cap to his study, being lined with boards going all the way back to the 1980’s: OG Hawk & McGill decks ‘fully decked out with Cubics & Trackers—on to the present. I cruised by a couple weeks ago, where he gave me his (my) original board, which he’d AXED—so much for freestyle… If you get a chance, check out his new album, described so well as “epic and darkly cinematic” from one of the many 5-star reviews on Amazon.

One of the most meaningful parts of skating has been the friendships along the way: Tony, Daewon, Jamie, Lance, Kareem, Has, MJ… So many. Knowing them, you see the nuanced ways their skating is an expression of who they are, which gets woven into fabric of the community itself, by both their contribution and standing. In this sense—and more—skating is more of an art than a sport. And this extends even beyond: Legit skaters like Jean, Bret Johnston, Ben Harper, Dhani, Stacy, Spike, Mark Gonzales, Jason Lee, Shawn Gladwell and Jonah Hill are just a handful of examples of the broader impact skaters make, particularly in the arts. Here, Jean helps connect these ideas: “Create and Destroy” - “Art is Art”-

@juxtapozmag has been releasing a Coffee Break series on YouTube featuring the artist, Jean Jullien. Though he’s been doing Almost graphics for a while, I’d never had the opportunity to meet him until we shot these together. What struck me most was Jean’s humility and thoughtfulness, which comes out in his work: his simple—loaded—drawings always have some grinning insight with such a grounded honesty. The depth and quality of his work is reflected by the caliber of the outlets that publish it across the globe: The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Tate, Yale, Nike, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New York Times, BMW, and a host of others. If you have the time, here’s “Comfort vs. Failure” -

Ever jump into an Uber or Lyft, only to realize your driver is nuts? Figuring they weren’t the only ones, @jackdishel created a little web series produced by my good friend David Zonshine, called :DRYVRS. Its first episode with Macaulay Culkin went OFF (25M views), then the next ones followed suit. For as creative and funny as Jack and David are, part of what makes these little videos feel so fun is that the cast is made up from Friends and friends of Friends. The second episode features @rosannaarquette with cameos by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and @dhaniharrison—the list goes on. DZ invited me to be in the 5th episode, which was really just an excuse to hang out and feel part of something special. It’s coming out on Halloween; maybe check it (all of ‘em) out if you get the time. *link is also in bio

If you’ve ever checked out Rolling Stone’s articles on skating, you’ve surely encountered the work of Eric Hendrikx. A close friend connected us; soon afterwards, we did an interview for the release of Liminal. Though an honor to work with him, it was his heart for skating and straight up character that solidified our friendship. A few weeks ago, Eric and his son took off to Switzerland. Soon afterwards, Ben (Harper) reached out to let me know Eric was in a near fatal motorcycle accident there, then promptly got on a plane to go check on him. Eric is beloved by so many of us in the skate community, not to mention musicians and motorcyclists. We are better off because of his contributions. Since then, we’ve been texting, and you’d never know anything happened—always such an awesome sense of humor. Yet the road to recovery will be a long one.

Eric was airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital, then placed in an induced coma and breathing ventilator. I think it was the kidney damage and internal bleeding that may have been scariest, along with a badly punctured lung. Surgeons already reconstructed his shoulder with a bunch of plates, while his busted collarbone and shattered clavicle continue to heal. Though his spine was fractured in over a dozen spots, the chord itself seems fine; surgeons left it alone. Aside from a few other fractures and a busted hand, that’s mostly what’s gonna keep him over there until mid-September. Yet all of this comes at an enormous financial cost. If any of this moves you to contribute to his GoFundMe page with anything you may have to spare, know that it’ll be going to some especially good people in need of a helping hand.

@birdhouseskateboards latest film, Saturdays, premieres soon. I been privileged to a little preview of @tonyhawk 's part, a week or two ago: IT IS INSANE. Tony and I have been friends since I was about 14. Our shared history through Stacy created a strong bond; the Bones Brigade doc captured that well— though the years afterward brought us even closer. Soon, I went to World, while Tony founded Birdhouse, and years passed as Tony continued to build momentum in what seemed a new era, one milestone after the next. By the time he did the 900, it seemed to culminate everything he’d built, and soon Tony reached a level of fame unparalleled in skateboarding. Meanwhile, I’d gradually learned to skate a little street, then busted an ankle after Round II. I guess drawing back to that original connection, I reached out to Tony because I just needed grounding. Funny, I suddenly found myself a little nervous around him after all the changes, thinking somehow, he’d be different. Yet through all his success, Tony was exactly the same, except maybe even more humble—if that’s even possible. In his typical way, Tony just put things in perspective, then out of the blue, asked me to be in his video game. All these years later, our friendship has only continued to grow. Not only is Tony one of the most gifted of all skaters I've ever known, his single-minded dedication to the act of skating itself over nearly forty years leaves me in awe, and his part in Saturdays is a testament to that unquenchable fire.

The Venice Biennale is an arts exhibition (and org), dating back to 1895. A skater named Shaun Gladwell was invited by the Dean of Yale’s School of Arts in 2007 to show one of his pieces, only to be singled out later by The Daily Telegraph: “If I had to pick the single young artist in this Biennale destined to future greatness, it would be the Australian Shaun Gladwell.” Today, Elton John even collects his work. Some years ago, Shaun reached out to shoot together; although I couldn’t film back then, he patiently encouraged, and we became friends along the way. The first time I’d skated in front of a camera for nearly a decade was for Shaun in the Torrance museum, on some of his favorite art. Thanks to the Drake Hotel for bringing us together in Toronto on Friday evening for a showing and a discussion.

There is no single skater that has ever made me feel more honored to have any association with— much less the bond we have— than @daewon1song . Even as a kid, his ninja skills were obvious; I put him on World right from the beginning, about 27 years ago. That only fueled his progress and creativity, which are still unfolding to this day, etching an indelible mark in our shared history, written through his skating, and illuminated through his character—because of who he is. Hardly have I ever met someone more creative, driven, humble, devoted—and most of all, a loyal friend-- which has been tested and found truer than I’ve ever known, nearly 30 years later. I can't express the honor I felt to introduce Daewon last Friday night at his Hall of Fame induction.

@krisztinaholly is a pearl of MIT (engineering), an entrepreneur, who is one of the most brilliant and insightful people I’ve ever known, advising a range of influential organizations, from LA Mayor Garcetti’s office to The White House. Her podcast "@artofmfg" is a behind-the-scenes look at how entrepreneurs turn ideas into realities. We just did an episode together, which she also wrote-up and published in Forbes; it weaves together elements of how what we take from skating can be translated into business, with some stories from the early days of World to the present. Best of all, Z’s like a sister to me. This shot is when she hosted TEDxUSC--my first ever talk--which would never have come about, were it not for her believing in me and making it happen.
Tune in on the website ( or iTunes (

Most Popular Instagram Hashtags