methods of stress reduction
A dope thing about skateboarding is that it attracts an endless variety of people, who are each drawn to it for their own specific reasons. We all have our unique relationships within skateboarding as far as what we want to do, who we want to be around, and where we want to go on, with, or because of them. John Gardner’s motivations on a skateboard are not so easily pigeon-holed, though it can be said that he’s not adhering to any sort of trends in attire, trick selection, or really, well anything. It makes one wonder whether he even needs a skateboard. Like, if the skateboard were never invented, I feel like John Gardner would figure out some other vehicle to sate his physical and creative urges. This points to part of what makes him such a delight to watch. For some people, skateboarding is what creates their identity. But for John, the skateboard is just an accessory, one of many mediums lending themselves to his way of life and creative pursuits. Without the board, he’d be no less extraordinary, but as skateboarders, we couldn’t be more fortunate to have him as a member of the club.
Photography by Mike BLABAC; Intro by Zach Baker; Interview by jK
John is shredding his way through backyards and back alleys of the East Coast sporting a big smile, a unique style, and a big heart. His flow follows the flute play while he’s on the look out for abstract spots, empty pools, and sketchy roll-ins. We had the chance to catch up with John during his Euro tour via WhatsApp, which felt very organic from the first lines we exchanged. Look out for his original talent!
How long are you on the road? What was the most memorable episode so far?
John Gardner: I left the States on August 3rd and will be cursing around Europe until September 5. Most memorable so far has been traveling to a small town in Germany called Waldbröl to attend a meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery. It was so nice. After I left I went into town to try and stay in a treehouse someone told me about, but the treehouse was occupied for the night so I hiked a few miles to the top of this hill to an old deserted castle where I spent the night. It was so cold, I didn’t have a blanket and didn’t sleep much. But it was so awesome because I stayed up most of the night watching shooting stars in the sky and I made friends with a bird who slept near me. Wonderful memories.
Meditation and breathing should be taught in school instead of giving medication to kids… How did you get into it?
JG: I wholeheartedly agree. These methods of stress reduction are much more effective than giving medication in my opinion… more schools are integrating these teachings and that makes me happy to see. I got into all of this through my mom and just having a desire to try and improve my life and be healthy. (My responses may be delayed a bit I’m biking around Copenhagen).
How did you like Christiania and the ALIS bowl?
JG: Christiania was so cool, I’ve always wanted to go there and heard lot of stories about that place. The bowl was really fun. Hard to skate but really fun. The footage I have always seen doesn’t do that place justice. Much respect to Christiania!
Such a unique place as well. Would be amazing if every city would have a freedom boosting district…
JG: I like the term “freedom boosting district”…
Best spot so far?
JG: I skated this OG skatepark outside of Berlin that was really fun. The one with the snake run.
DC MVP on the tour?
JG: Wes and Evan always clean up. I love those guys. Anyone who knows them will tell you the same.
How did you get into skating? Is this your dad doing a handstand on the board in one of the videos?
JG: When I was in 3rd grade there was a “family fun night” at the local skatepark / hockey rink called Xtremes. I had a Variflex board with a tiger on it that I got for Christmas and brought it with me. Dropped in the first night and was hooked. That’s actually my uncle in those videos. He has unbelievable handstand strength. He can go up and down stairs too. He and my dad used to be in a Greek dancing group that toured around the country doing traditional Greek dancing with backflips and handstands. They were really good. My dad has always been really supportive of me skating, he gets more hyped than me sometimes. I love that guy so much. The BMX vibe comes from him. He used to race mountain bikes and was sponsored. He kills it still to this day.
So did you grow up on a diet of Greek dancing, food & mythology? What was your favorite part? Did you make it out to Athens? (Amazing skate spots right there…)
JG: Haha, yes I grew up in all of that! Greek culture is very family-oriented. Dancing, good food, and spending time together are a big part of that and my favorite. Yes! I’ve been to Greece a few times to visit family. Athens is so good for skating.
Do you use Google Maps for spot checks or what is the best method?
I don’t really use Google Maps for spots, but it is very useful for finding empty pools. I much prefer driving, biking, or skating around to find stuff. What is your dream spot? Which architectural piece would you love to skate, if possible? My dream spot would be a concrete park in the woods next to a river you can swim in, good food close by, and all of your friends of course. Willamantic skatepark in Connecticut is pretty much that place, aside from the good food close by part.
Which pros have influenced you?
JG: When I was growing up I wanted to be like Andrew Reynolds. Wenning and PRod footage got me so stoked. As I got older I really started to watch how people skated more than what they did. The flow. I’m very inspired by Gonz and Matt Rodriguez to name a few. Some other lesser known people, but equally inspiring to watch are Clay Shank, Nik Stain, and my friend Zach Gesko.
JG: Oh for sure. The vibe I get from Paolo is like water. I really enjoy watching him skate.
Talking about breathing… what is the best way while skating? Everybody has experienced being completely out of breath during a line for example…
JG: The best way to breathe while skating for me has always been linking your breathe to each action. So breathing in lifting your leg, breathing out to push. It’s very popular in yoga and martial arts to correlate your breathing with your actions. I’m trying to do more of that.
Did you ever reach a heightened state? Did you take part in rituals like Ayahuasca?
JG: I have never taken part in an Ayahuasca ceremony. I honestly don’t have much of a desire to do so either… all plant medicine has its place if used correctly and by all means if a certain plant calls to you, then answer. I’ve taken part in mushroom ceremonies and A San Pedro cactus ceremony with a shaman. Like all things though, make sure you do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into. That being said - hard drugs are whack.
Maybe a turtle. They are really amazing creatures with some supernatural wisdom beneath the shell.
Pick a supernatural power and why?
JG: It’s hard to pick one so I will pick two: teleporting and healing powers. Not to heal only for myself, but to help others as well.
If you could time travel… which time period or culture would you like to explore?
JG: Time travel is so fascinating but I have never given it much thought. I guess I would like to travel back into the distant past, like go to the beginning of time and experience the Big Bang! That would be cool to see.
(Thanks for the questions, I am about to start a meditation retreat so I won’t have my phone for the next few days. Let’s touch base when I’m all finished).
How was the retreat?
JG: The retreat was very challenging to be honest, they all are. Meditating is hard, but it is always a great challenge because I feel very refreshed when I leave – every time.
JG: My plans for the future are yet to be seen, but I see myself in a good place, with good people, feeling great.
Words of wisdom?
JG: The best words of wisdom I have, have already been said by many... change yourself and you change the world, be the change you wish to see in the world.