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Meet the Nieratkos - How I Spent My Tampa Vacation

ATL Twins, Selena Gomez, Bruce Springsteen, Yankees game, catching a whale, enormous titties—this sums up my weekend at the Tampa Pro skate contest.

For the past 18 years The Skatepark of Tampa has been hosting the most revered core skateboarding contest on Earth in a non-descript warehouse in one of the shittier parts of Tampa. I’ve been going down there for the past 12 years, covering the event with the Big Brother Magazine brand of skate “journalism” that typically has nothing to do with the skating and everything to do with the sex, drugs, and alcohol that permeates the air. I never saw a need to be Marv Albert with the play-by-play; I like to believe that’s what skate photos and videos are for. But it hasn’t always been easy to avoid the matter at hand. I’ve had to come up with a lot of silly business over the years. At one am contest I took nothing but Polaroids of amateurs who looked like pro skaters. Another trip, thanks to the Hustler connection that Big Brother had, I spent the week sleeping at The Voyeur Dorm and partying with a bunch of naked gals while on a live stream.


This year I had the liberty of taking an even more leisurely approach to the contest coverage than ever before, if that’s even humanly possible, thanks to my Adventures With Chris show on Vans’ I wasn’t on an assignment for a magazine or website, so my scope for the long weekend was more narrow than usual: have adventures with Zero/Vans pro, Keegan Sauder. And that’s just what we did from the moment we touched down to the moment we left.

Every year the SPOT crew hosts a fishing tournament that I’ve always wanted to go to. This year I scheduled it so I could finally attend. And win.

I think it’s natural to like to win. Winning isn’t everything, but it’s way fucking cooler than losing. My wife will testify to my absurd compulsion to win. Once we went diving with sea turtles in Maui with a bunch of other couples—six kayaks in all. I yelled at her to paddle harder, faster, so that we could beat the other couples and get to the turtles first. And win. We had no idea where we were going and soon found ourselves out to sea, halfway to Guam. But we got there first. That’s all that matters.

The SPOT fishing tournament is typically a friendly, non-competitive event. But that’s just because I’ve never participated. I told the other fisherman I was going to be the Nyjah Huston of the Gulf if I lost and that they’d probably see me cry.

But winners never cry. And cheaters cry even less. And so I set out to rig the fishing tournament. For the week leading up I trolled eBay for a 10-foot mounted marlin like my friend Andy Capper had asked me for his (first) wedding gift. I planned on smuggling the dead prize catch onto the Vans fishing team’s boat, and once out to sea I’d tie it to our line, then scream, “FISH ON!” for all the other boats to hear. Then I would put on a performance so convincing that the Screen Actors Guild would blush and slip me their number on a cocktail napkin.


But do you have any idea how much taxidermy costs? Far too much for a joke.

Luckily, if there is one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that people love to help out their fellow man in executing a well thought-out prank. I cast my line out into a sea of emails to see if anyone knew anyone who knew anyone in Florida who might lend me a mounted marlin for a day. “Actually my buddy has a restaurant an hour outside of Tampa with a huge marlin and a sailfish,” said my friend Will Campbell, “Let me ask him if you can walk in and take it off the wall.”

An hour after we landed in Tampa we found ourselves an hour away, in the Florida swamps looking for the crazy catfish restaurant willing to lend us their dead fish. As if the plan didn’t have enough holes in it, I saw the biggest one when we removed the marlin from the wall. Often taxidermists will leave an open hole in the back of a mounted fish for wall or placard mounts. This was one of those times. If I threw that fish in the sea it would fill with water and sink, or, worse yet, the salt would eat away at the beast from the inside.

We did the only thing in our power at 11 PM on a Wednesday with only 7 hours before we set sail: we went to a 24-hour Walmart and bought an inflatable whale.

Sadly, everyone got skunked and the exotic blue whale allowed us to win the tournament.

A W is W.

The next night we skipped Skatepark of Tampa’s annual concert with some band called The Black Lips for Bruce Springsteen. I’ve seen Bruce many times, but only in New Jersey. Now that I’ve seen him in Tampa I feel like I saw him in New Jersey in 1986—the high hair, the low-cut blouses, the last vestige of acid-washed denim, women in their 60s dressing like they were 18—it was almost a religious, time-traveling experience.


Saturday I believe I watched some of the contest. Keegan actually advanced to the semi-finals on Sunday. I congratulated him but told him I couldn’t be there to watch.

“But I will be watching the live webcast from the Yankees spring training game against the Tigers.” Jeter hit a homer the second we took our seats. Gotta believe he did it just for me. Or Keegan. Or both of us. But me first.

This year’s Tampa Pro was easily the most relaxing weekend I’ve had since I began my new job three years ago as a diaper changer. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I saw them standing there. My heart went BOOM when I crossed that room: it was Sidney and Thurman Sewell, aka The ATL Twins. I love these guys! I know you do too. Everyone who has read that VICE interview is crazy about them. Including Harmony Korine, who wrote them a major role in his new movie, Spring Breakers, starring Selena Gomez and James Franco, which just happened to be filming the next town over in St. Pete.

Their adventures on set are too many and too fantastic to just throw in here. I’ll re-interview them soon about the film. But they did tell me that Instagram banned them because of some Selena Gomez photos that pissed off thousands of rabid Selena Gomez fans. (Their new instagram account is @theatltwinz. Follow them if you love life.)

Instagram is funny. My buddy Zered Bassett just had a photo of his girlfriend banned because they believed that his finger in front of his iPhone lens was actually a naked ass.


The ATL Twins wanted me to tell you that things are going well and that all sorts of big things are happening for them. To thank me for the interview that sparked it all they invited me back to their hotel where “three black bitches [were] waiting.” I politely declined. “Want us to get you an escort or something? Pick any kind you want.” As you can tell from the photo of the three of us just seconds after they offered, I was quite excited by the possibility of having such an adventure with the dynamic duo. Sadly, I again had to refuse the temptation, but not before telling them, “You know what? I’ve had some of my friends since I was five years old, others are like brothers to me, and yet none have ever offered to buy me an escort. That really means a lot to me. I appreciate that.”

In case you were on a boat or at a game, here’s highlights from the final day of Tampa Pro 2012:

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