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Friday, September 25, 2009
Updated: September 26, 2:24 PM ET
Lights! Cameras! Atchley!

By Noah Johnson

Portland-bred ripper and Element pro, Brent Atchley, came up under the Burnside Bridge and made a name for himself with fluid lines and tech precision. We caught up with Brent while he was preparing for an East Coast excursion and the ramp jam he's hosting at Brooklyn's Autumn Bowl on Sunday. He shared with us a little bit of the Oregon city's charm and gave us a glimpse into the life of the son of the world's most infamous skate spot.

How did the event at the Autumn Bowl in New York come together?
Basically, Chopper Dave out in New York and I had been talking about it for quite some time, and I bought tickets with some friends of mine to fly out to New York just to go skate—no strings attached, no companies involved—and I said to Chopper Dave, we can do it. He'd been hollering at me for quite some time about it, and it just kind of came together. Got Dakine to throw some money into it, too.

How often do you get to just go on a skate trip with friends, without any team involved?
Not really too often. It's quite refreshing. I'm stoked to do this with no obligation to a company, just get out there with my friends and just do what we do.

Have you been to New York much?
I've been out there a few times, but not in a couple years. It will be my first time out there doing it without a company, so I'll get a real feel for it—a real taste of the city.

Brent knows how to style an ollie, and Brian Gaberman knows how to style a photo.

When you get to New York, what are you looking forward to doing?
Skateboarding, obviously.

Any spots you're looking forward to hitting?
I have no agenda, and that's the way I love to be. I'm gonna just see friends, see people, write on walls, skateboard, party, get some ladies—what anyone else would do out there.

If you could have a dream session at the Autumn Bowl, who would be there?
Oh, shoot man, Mark Gonzales. Tony Trujillo. Oh man, I dunno, my friend Tucker I'm going out to New York with. Who else? We'll throw Choppy Omega in there for good measure [laughs].

What's the craziest thing you've seen go down at Burnside?
I've seen so many fights—fools getting beat down. I've seen dudes nod off on dope—one time this dude just passed out and dropped 20 feet, just clocks out, falls—dead-body status—hits his head, laying in the small bowl, blood streaming everywhere, homeboy is unconscious. I dunno if he's alive or dead. It was gnarly. Homeboy just tipped over.

That went down in the middle of a session while you were skating there?
Yeah, there were a lot of dudes that used to try to hang out up there [in the empty lot above the main wall at Burnside] and run their dope game out of Burnside, so we—some of the bigger and older dudes there—had to sort of police the area against that. It just looks bad on us.

What were the fights all about?
You name it—over a cigarette, a beer, money, kooks, whatever. Squatters would come down and try to squat there. It's like, this is a respectable place, you can't just come down here and geek it. You better recognize that this is our home. Fights went down over anything—you name it and I'm sure dudes have fought over it numerous times.

Is a lot of that the Burnside from back in the day, or is it still gnarly like that there?
It's still like that, but back in the day, you had to fight to keep it going. Now it's established to the point that no one comes in and tries to take it over, or act like they can just post up. It's still the same way—if you're geeking it, there is no tolerance. People will stomp you out.

How's Portland otherwise?
I'm not here to hype Portland up or anything, but this s--- is cracking here, man. People that come here aren't bummed out—unless it's the winter. The only negative thing you could say about Portland is that it rains a lot. And that's like, welcome to reality. Big whoopty-doo, you ain't gonna melt, ya know?

What other spots do you like to skate out there?
Random street spots that no one knows about. I'm not a big fan of skateparks. They're fun, but I dunno. I just like to skate street. Burnside is like a street spot; I skate it like a street spot. It's ledges on top of trannies. It was never planned out; it wasn't like, "Oh, we're going to build a skatepark down under the Burnside Bridge." It just started with a slab of concrete on the wall, then a little spine, a ledge on top of something—it just came together. People think it's a skatepark, but it's not, it's a skate spot. It's a street spot. There are other good spots. We put our soft wheels on and just smash down hills. It's fun.

What about when you're not skating?
I just try to maintain. There are girls to chase, bars to hit, trouble to get into. There's healthy things to do, too—you can get your health on.

What do you do to get your health on?
Ah, dog, you eat good, drink your waters. I just went and hit up the wellness center, sit for an hour in the hot tub and the sauna, use the facilities. Hit up the pool. I should get into yoga and stretch more, but I dunno.

Who's the best skater out there that no one has ever heard of, or who's the most underrated?
There are so many dudes like that out here; it's hard to call. The one homey, Dirty Scott, that fool is a charger. He's an older dude, but people don't know about him. There are so many underground rippers that are up here that don't care. They aren't out for getting sponsored or turning pro or whatever.

It seems like Portland is a big city for that, people who skate just because they love it and don't care about going somewhere with it.
Straight up. To a T. That's what I knew. I didn't really know about getting sponsored, but people started coming to me and I was like, 'All right, I'll mess with that.' But, it's a good thing. It's a lot like that out here.

So, when you were coming up, did you ever think that this is what you wanted—that you wanted to be pro?
Nah, dude. I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking that would be ideal—just to skateboard and get paid. But in my mind I never really set out to make that my destination, it just kind of happened. I'd still be skateboarding if I wasn't making money.

It's just not something that you'd turn down.
I don't think anybody would. If someone comes to you and says, 'We want to pay you for something you're going to do anyway,' of course you're going to do it. But it gets tricky with politics and contracts and all that.

Does that kind of stuff bum you out?
Yeah, it's all dumb. I just like to skate. That stuff gets in the way; it can make a situation unhealthy. But, it's like, you gotta take the bad with the good.

Looking back at some of your video parts, you seem to have a lot of creativity in your skating that other skaters don't have. Do you think that's something that is missing in skateboarding right now?
People are pretty creative, but maybe not at the same time. People don't think about it. I don't know the formula. I don't know how I do what I do. I just skate. Like, if I do something I like, I guess I like it, but I'm kind of oblivious to it.

Do you read skate magazines, watch videos and pay attention to what other people are doing?
Not as much as probably a lot of people out there. I'm not really that interested, so I leave it alone. Skateboarding is cool, but there is life outside of skateboarding, too.