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"I love teaching. That is my number one thing," he says. "My goal with skateboarding is not to be pro. It's to be something like a Brooklyn legend. I wanna be the guy that people come up to for advice at a spot."
At Owl's Head, Tony is already that guy. When the park opened in 2001, it was one of only two places in all of the five boroughs where one could skate transition and vert (there are now many other options). Designed for skateboarders, the park's reputation for speed and big air made it instantly attractive to the city's BMX riders as well. Today, these two tribes share this turf, sometimes uneasily, and some partisans feel that the skaters don't always attack the bowls with the same aggressiveness as the bikers, and vice versa. For both groups, however, Tony stands out.
Jason "Shaggy" Schwab, the supervisor at Owl's Head and a BMXer himself, who has known Tony for eight years, puts it this way. "His cockiness, his arrogance—nothing against the skaters, but Tony is the only skater the bikers respect. He's the only one who rides like a biker."
Tony takes us next to a parking lot out back of a Chase branch on 19th Avenue. The sun is down now, and he admits he just wants to go home to his fiancee Raine, and their two-year old daughter, Cassidy.
He has in mind a fakie big spin to manual (a trick so technically complicated, I won't try to explain it) and, sighing, he asks us for some words of inspiration. Chris, impatient and clearly having some experience in these situations (the two recently shot a commercial together for Spitfire Wheels) is ready with a riposte for his prima donna: "Do it for the glory." It takes awhile—dozens of near misses—but Tony keeps at it until he has the make.
As the four of us pack up and say our goodbyes, a kid Tony knows from the neighborhood walks by with some friends. "Hey, when are you gonna hook me up?" the kid asks. He's referring to Tony's promise to pass along an Entree t-shirt, something he routinely does with his extras. "Right now," Tony says, removing the brand new shirt, which he had worn for this session, from his back. How many pros would do that?
The Best Amateur Skater in Brooklyn