Meet the Nieratkos

Skaters Can Read

By Chris Nieratko


John Cardiel can read.

Skateboarders have never been accused of being the smartest people in the room. They are creative, artistic, and resourceful, but most are high school or home school drop-outs incapable of basic reading comprehension. In the ten years I’ve owned a skateshop in New Jersey I’ve taught countless kids how to work at the shop, as well as how to at least fake having a high school education. Since we only employ skaters, the results have been hilarious, next level, brain-dead fuckups that even the most creative thinker couldn’t conjure up.

Here’s a brief highlight reel:

- One kid was never taught how to address a box, so he wrote our address in the middle and the California address in the upper left. We paid $90 to ship two boxes back to ourselves. Same kid also put a stamp on the upper left of an envelope.

- Another kid locked himself IN THE STORE and called me for help getting out.

- I sent one kid to the post office with a dollar and two envelopes and told him to get stamps. When he returned with the envelopes in one hand and the stamps in the other I asked him, “Where the hell do you think these letters need to go?” His response: “But you didn’t tell me to mail them.” And he was correct. So that one, I suppose, is on me.

- First day on the job one kid bangs a chick in the shop bathroom and throws the condom in the toilet. Forgets to flush it.

- Another kid called me to ask if he could have a few days off to go down and skate in Florida. I sad, “Sure, no problem.” I urge the boys to go see the world and experience life. “When are you thinking?” I asked. “Well, we’re halfway down there now. We left last night.” It was 30 minutes before his shift.

- Recently one kid told the fire inspector that we do not have a fire extinguisher and we were fined. In the three years he’s been working for us, it seems he failed to notice the enormous fire extinguisher on the wall next to the bathroom.

I could go on like this for days. And I have even more amazing stories from the pros and ams I’ve interviewed over the years. One of my all-time favorites is an interview I did with Birdhouse am David Loy. David is “homeschooled” but his parents let him be his own teacher, so the poor kid doesn’t know a whole lot about a great many things.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview I did with him in 2010 for the Skateboard Mag:  

Me: The other day you told me you graduated from your home school and yet you had no idea what Auschwitz was.
David Loy:
Where what? I have no idea what Auschwitz is.

It’s a type of cheese.
Oh yeah. No. I have no idea what Auschwitz is.

Do you like Auschwitz?
No, because I don’t know what it is. I’ve never had it.

I’m sure you’ve had it on a burger before.
What kind of cheese is it? What’s it like?

It has a burnt, smoky taste. And it’s cut real thin.
I don’t know if I have. I can’t recall.

It’s a German cheese. Next time you’re in Germany you should ask to have a little Auschwitz on your burger.
OK. I was just in Germany. Maybe I did have some on my burger, I don’t know. If it was that cheese, then it was good.

Was it burnt to a crisp?
No.

When his interview hit the stands he texted me and said, “You jerk! I know Auschwitz is a constipation camp!” Ah, what a sweet, sweet boy.

Despite the numerous examples of skaters being semiretarded I wanted to point out, with Father’s Day just around the corner and October always showing a spike in teen pregnancies, that if you give birth to a skater, it’s OK. They’re not all dipshits. Some are super intelligent and have even gone on to be doctors and scientists. And some… some can even read. Here is photographic proof:


Zered Bassett can read.


Tony Trujillo can read.


Scuba Steve can read.


Keegan Sauder can read.


Chris Pastras can read.


Ishod Wair can read.


Jason Dill can read.


Ray Barbee can read.

Over the past decade I’ve had nearly every great pro and am skater in the country come to my house for a barbeque after the demos we put on at the shop. I typically man the grill so I never really got to document all my guests with photos. When I had kids a few years ago, though, I decided I should start taking photos of the boys with the guys passing through. It started with the shot of Fucking Awesome’s Jason Dill reading to my son. By the end of last year I had a dozen photos of skaters reading to my sons and was well on my way to finishing my photo book that I’ll never get around to finishing called Skaters Can Read.

Since no one buys books anymore I decided to add a multimedia component, and now Tony Trujillo and Keegan Suader can read your kids to sleep with these two videos:

More stupid can be found at Chrisnieratko.com or @Nieratko

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