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July 13th, 2009 - by Stuff

James Short Interview

Tags: ben schwab, dave dinuzzo, james short, new philadelphia, ohio, ross kuhn

As I sit here listening to Elliott Smith and Eagles of Death Metal, I'm thinking of the wide spectrum of rollerblading styles that we are lucky to have in our sport with one particular individual in mind.

James ShortAs I sit here listening to Elliott Smith and Eagles of Death Metal, I'm thinking of the wide spectrum of rollerblading styles that we are lucky to have in our sport with one particular individual in mind. It's hard to have a recognizable style that people not only want to constantly see, but that is completely original and all it's own. I think it's cool to say that my best friend is one of these few people, and it's the the reason why he's always been one of my absolute favorite people to ever put on a pair of skates. James Short is not only known for what he does, but he is hands down the best at it. James has always been at the top of his game, but now is finally his time to shine. Hopefully this interview will shed some light on the unique personality of one of my hero's, who I like to call the Bob Dylan of rollerblading.

- Stefan Brandow

STEFAN: When you came to Pittsburgh last, we went to Mr. Smalls skatepark and in true James Short fashion you ended up not even skating the park and skated the EDGE of a support to an uprail. You are the master of the toe roll. Not the first, but definitely the best. Why did you decide to go for toe rolls and cess slides instead of rails and switch ups, and how did you start getting into manuals?

JAMES: Hahaha yeah, that royale up to 270 a/o fish was really fun. Stuff like that I really enjoy, as far as the toe rolls and cess slides.. I had a near fatal fall a long time ago. It landed me in bed for close to 3 months. Nothing to do but piss in a bottle and think.

I realized then that I wanted to explore a different side of rollerblading...take a new approach. There has always been a few skaters like this, Riggle, Yeager, Chase Rushing... but even they got some undeserved hate for choosing to explore. I've come to the realization that I am a creative person and im not TRYING to be creative. It just happens that way.

Every now and again you'll find me doing a switchup.. even spins into grinds on rails... but I just prefer to do it... how I do. : )

STEFAN: How did growing up in Ohio affect your skating? It seemed like when you first started coming up there were some huge scenes in Ohio blossoming, but the town of New Philadelphia wasn't necessarily a mecca for rollerblading.

JAMES: Ohio is weird. and New Philly is even weirder haha.  I grew up with the likes of Ron Copeland, James St. Ours and Omar Wysong just murdering spots. Ohio had blossomed and then branched out.  With the exception of myself and the ever drifting Ben Schwab, not really any of the og bladers live here anymore.

New Philly just sort of started coming up, out of nowhere.  For years it was myself, Aaron Orozco and Josh Patterson. After I had got back into the blading scene early on in 2008... there was an boom of new bladers. Young kids and some of the older guys were getting it back too. It didnt hurt to be an hour and a half away from Stefan, either haha. He is our only true source of exposure. If it werent for him, you'd not see any video footage of me or anyone else in this area.

James Short - Gap
Zerospin over the dirtiest hole in the ground. New Philadelphia, OH

New Philly is rad. Its tiny, laid back and extremely void of the corporate empire.  On any given day you may find Ben Schwab, Tim Taylor, Stefan Brandow or any other random pro or am sessioning a spot. Its turned into a place to escape for alot of my good friends like the aforementioned.

STEFAN: Speaking of Ohio, you've lived all over. California, Detroit, you were a vagabond between your house and mine in Pittsburgh for awhile, and now you're going back to California. If you don't mind elaborating, why did you move to all these places, and why did you not stay in one of them for good?

JAMES:  Haha I am not a stationary person. I live for right now. Its hard for alot of people to fathom, just not having a place.. basically being a drifter.  I move alot because I'm in need of new experiences. It truly is what makes the creative mind work.

Much like Mr. Kerouac, I have buddies sometimes go with.. but after a while.. they need stability and solidarity  and im left alone... traveling haha.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

I AM moving to LA in the next few months. Its a move that I know will only better my mind and soul.. not to mention my blading.

James Short - Fs Torque
Front Torque + breaking and entering. New Philadelphia, OH

STEFAN: As you and I have said many times before, Sean Cullen is the most bad ass, creative, wild son of a bitch and we love him for it. What made you finally decide to ride for INRI and what is your involvement?

JAMES:  Well, I had just got on Sic Apparel and I also just made a trip with Mr. Schwab to LA.  On one of our adventures, we hung out with Sean and just started talking. INRICLOTH is the truth. The heart and soul of why i rollerblade.

The company itself is free and open to ideas. Im helping out with trying to be a sales rep. as well as ride for the crew. We all are intricate factors in INRI's existence.  Sean Cullen is a badass and i look up to him so much... for someone like that to ask me to be a part of something as rad as INRI?  How can you say no?

I parted ways with Sic Apparel and am now rocking INRI.


BEN:  Some people get reduced from human into stereotype. In my opinion, it is often these same people who are themselves free thinkers, and free spirits (the Dahrma bums of the world). With that being said, who are you?

JAMES: I am, at best, a slave to the world. As much as I wish to truly want to believe in free thinking... I know, deep down its been thought before.

Haha.  To answer your question more appropriately... I am as free spirited and completely spontaneous as yourself or anyone with their eyes open and their hearts bleeding for the truth in life.

BEN: I heard you get made fun of for doing toe rolls..........but contrary to popular belief, i know you can still do tech shit. In fact, I have seen you do it with my own two eyes at Long Beach Skatepark. Do you think that if you decided to start filming tonight for a section full of 40 tech tricks, and killed yourself in the process, anyone would actually care you proved you could do it?

JAMES:  I do get made fun of quite a bit, it gets to me only as much as schoolboys yelling to each other about their mothers.  As far as killing myself for a full section of tech shit... i would, you know i would... moreso than most.  But the only thing I have to prove is that I'm having a fucking blast. Or wait... No... my sponsors need that fulfillment, right?  Thats what needs said here. Yes. I care too much. Or too little.  No. I do care.

James Short - Switch 180 BEN: A lot of people make excuses or find reasons to justify their actions in life. But do you think there is any justifiable reason to ever purchase a Nickelback album?

JAMES: Chad Kroeger is Satan incarnate. Buy a Nickleback album. Go to hell.  hahahaha  Next question. hahahaha

BEN: You just recently flew out to California to skate/film.  To say that you had a good time would simply be an understatement.......but are you jealous that 3 days after you left California, i was at the Largo Coronet on La Cienaga Blvd in Los Angeles sitting at the bar drinking a beer next to Fiona Apple?

James: That trip to Cali that we had will go down as the best tour I have ever been a part of.  By far the raddest shit and the most rediculous adventures. Not only should we be known as Dharma Bums... But we should probably write a book about that entire time period hahaha.

Am i jealous? Fuck yes I am jealous! Not only did i miss Jon Brion.. I missed out on seeing Fiona Apple. AND!  I missed out on being two barstools away from those amazing blue eyes and that coy smirk shes always carrying. ( *shudders with jealousy*)

BEN: Do you ever feel like you have ever been in the following place:  underneath a heat lamp, floating, intebriated on top of the moon?

JAMES: Ojai hotsprings. My first erection in school. First profile in a magazine. Meeting Ben Schwab. CHEAST. Hahahaha

No, really... The perception that kids have of you as a Pro rollerblader or in any light, really. A musician, an artist of some sort... Its the feeling of uncomfortable scrutiny that may be unspoken... but you know it exists. Being in the public eye, whether world famous or hometown hero. Thats what I think of with that question.


ROSS KUHN: James, from what I can gather, you prefer to live a different lifestyle than the stereotypical U.S. mid-westerner. You chose not to sign on to the local employment manufacturing industry, not to settle down with the cute girl from high school, and to not accept Christianity as the only faith. Instead you practice Buddhism, try to travel as commonly as you can and play music and blade in equal amounts. It seems as though you have accepted a similar path in your blading philosophy. My question is: just as your recent addiction to Starbucks chai tea, and obsession with American legends like James Dean seem opposed to your un-American lifestyle decisions, do you also enjoy surfing a big kink rail as much as the next guy? This of course brings about the larger question of whether you consider yourself an idealist, or just someone who is trying to figure this whole thing out, on and off the blades?

JAMES: I would'nt call it un-American... more like apolitical haha I'm just a bohemian drifter. A dharma bum.

Haha firstly.. in all meanings of the words.. i believe in living life.  To be tied down to a factory job, the cutie from highschool and staying put... thats just not how a human should live. Maybe its just that im not into it or maybe its the passion for new experiences in life but i honestly just want to see everything and do whatever.

Buddhism to me is what works. I got into it at an early age and since then realized that its how i act and am percieved that makes me, well, me haha. Whatever you think "God" to be... replace the word with love.  You know... what would love do? Haha sounds silly... but its all you ever need to ask.

Be nice, be empathetic, live as you need to.

I am as American as the next guy, I just feel most americans are too scared to step out of their comfort zones. Whether its up and moving to LA on a whim, or going from toe rolls on a manual pad to surfing a big ol' kink haha

Im not trying to figure anything out. Im just trying to live and do what makes myself and those around me smile.

ROSS: What are the “freedoms” that you believe Xsjado brand blades demonstrate?

JAMES: Xsjados are amazing. You can take a person like say... Bsmith, or someone like ..shit i dunno... Aragon even... and put them in a pair of Xsjados and watch them destroy shit the way they do, and they would be comfortable as the next guy. Or you can take someone like myself, or Ben (Schwab) and see how we would use the skates to fully accentuate our bodies movements. Using the Xsjados as more of the outlet. Letting the skate work for you and creating an almost relationship with each new pair.

That's what it comes down to.  In my eyes.. Xsjados are the perfect instrument to find complete control in rollerblading.

The freedom is endless. The whole design just works to help me harness confidence and creativity. They help me take my skating to the next level.  Haha does that make sense?

Frontside royale up to 270 alley oop fishbrain. mr. smalls skatepark. Pittburgh, PAROSS: What else besides blading and music make up your raison d’etre?

JAMES: Well, music and blading are the two huuuge things in my life but i do enjoy many other things.

For example, I ride harleys haha maybe you wouldnt expect it? Maybe you would. I love motorcycles! Basically it all comes down to cruising  on a country backroad with no roof or windshield to hold you back... just the air and the sun and the occasional bug. Haha its very free and relaxing.

I'm also really into cooking, reading as many books as i can and backgammon. Im obsessed with playing backgammon.

Haha.  Dont get me wrong, I love going out to the bar and trying to meet girlies as much as the next dude but theres just alot more to do than just party.

ROSS: It seems like you took a 2 or 3-year sabbatical from all blading media and information networks. In that time did you actually stop skating?

JAMES: I did. Yes. I had gotten some exposure thanks to Jon Elliott and it was a dream come true. I am in no way ungrateful for everything I've had. I know most kids would've killed to be in my shoes. I just got a heavy dose of politics in our small little industry and kind of had too much.

At that time skating just wasn't in my favor for several different reasons. I had alot of growing up to do between ages 19 and 23.

I strapped on blades a few times, but even then it felt I was trying too hard without finding what it was i had been looking for.

Redemption came in the form of the local kids in New Philly and in Stefan Brandow bugging me to film a section (jjhb). They all tried to get me back into it and I knew I wanted to, I just didnt have the spark.

The spark came in a series of events that started to happen and change everything in my life..  it goes like this.. my band broke up, i lost my girl and i found Xsjados. haha

Now completely free of all ties and with a newfound love for creativity... Im here. Doing this interview... skating for Xsjado, Inricloth and Haha. Living the dream.

ROSS: Can you really read palms?

JAMES: Hahaha! My mother is a palm reader and can read tarot. Ive picked up a whole lot from her. Whereas Im not as into it as she is, I can read palms and its fun to get to know people through it.


THANK YOUS:  Thank you to Stefan Brandow, Ben Schwab and Ross Kuhn for these thought provoking questions haha. You guys are my best friends!  Dave Dinuzzo..Youre a beast at taking photos!

To Xsjado for the love and support and for making the best damn skates ever. Inri and Sean Sea... best shit out right now!!!! Order  your stuff there! They know best!

And to everyone that skates with me and puts up with my shit daily: Josh Patterson, Aaron Orozco, Christian Meese, Adam Cooper, Ben Schwab, John Schwab, Alyssia!!!, Ciara, ETHAN FUCKING WRECKIO!, Stefan " james, just do the trick" Brandow, Shane Conn and all the Jolly Jolly Heartbreakers.

Everyone I forgot. LOVE.

Photos by Dave Dinuzzo

Last shot: Frontside Royale up to 270 Alley oop fishbrain. Mr. Smalls skatepark. Pittsburgh, PA.


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