Interview: Mark Gralla

A quick chat with The Rat. Photos by Clarky.

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I suppose we might as well start here with your zine thing. The photos in there are a bit more intense than the usual middle-of-the-road lifestyle stuff. Do you think people should try harder sometimes?

Man I’m not sure if people don’t try hard enough or if they try too hard. I just happen to live a different lifestyle than some people. Whether it’s more or less intense, I’d like to think I see some cool shit.

A lot of the photos were taken from that trip to China with Clarky, Marv and co. Could you understand their accents? You pick up any good slang?

They had me rolling the whole time, next time I’m gonna be writing this shit down so I don’t forget all their funny slang. Gotta say though, Sandy or Tommy were the hardest to understand.

Although various media outlets like to whinge that ‘print is dead’ or whatever, it seems like more and more people are making their own bits and bobs. Why do you think this is? What other zines and stuff are you into?

I’d like to say that this is the first printed article I’ve ever made so I can’t speak from too much experience, but I don’t think that print is dead, it’s just how you go about it. If magazines didn’t pressure themselves to come out every X amount of time, things might be different.

It’s possible that people see good things coming out such as zines or videos or whatever and it triggers their creativity to go out and do something, which is cool.

I’m pretty much into anything interesting, gritty street shit of any kind obviously being the top.

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Okay, on a different subject, when did you start riding? Was there anything in particular that set you off?

I was about 13, nothing in particular just riding bikes around the neighborhood jumping curbs and shit, still doing the same shit now.

You’re from Long Island aren’t you? What’s it like out there? Did many people ride out there when you were growing up?

Yeah man Long Island. It’s a pretty normal suburban place. There was a good group of kids older and younger and we would all ride together, some of them still ride now. I would also chill with a group of skaters just as much, so best of both worlds.

Ever bump into brown-trousered lurker Antony Pappalardo? He’s from out that way isn’t he?

Yeah he is, don’t think I’ve ever seen him in real life though.

When did you first start riding in NYC? What was it like back then?

I was 14 and it was right after 9-11. My buddy’s dad has an auto body shop in Brooklyn and we caught a ride with him there and then took the train into the city. We rode the electric ledge first spot (Will Taubin feeble backwards feeble in Day Job). NYC felt like the biggest place in the whole world. Kinda crazy cause sometimes it doesn’t feel like that anymore. 

What are your top three deceased spots? What stuff do you miss?

There’s tons of spots I wish I had ridden or could still, but I definitely miss kicking it at the banks, that place definitely helped bring together the NY scene. City Hall and Love in Philly too, crazy to think both those parks have been redone and will look nothing like they used to.

Which spots suck?

Those that lack character.

When did you meet Bob?

It was my last day of 10th grade, I had cut school to stay a long weekend in Philadelphia. I was at City Hall with a couple friends, and Bob showed up with Rob Darden. This was around the time they were filming for the S&M video Please Kill Me. We ended up riding towards Drexel University. After that I’d see him around Jersey at the Animal warehouse or something like that.

You see any of the cast of Don’t Quit Your Day Job 2 much these days? Got any information on the whereabouts of mysterious grind-man Jesse Susicki?

Haha I think Jeff had just told me that Susicki is a waiter at a restaurant somewhere but I forgot the place. But yeah I see Jeff occasionally not as much as we used to hang out, and a couple of the other dudes in there for sure.

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Who rides in New York these days? Is there still a definite ‘New York’ style of riding, or has it splintered off a bit?

There’s more kids than ever that ride in New York, but just like with everything, people have access to see other styles, places and cultures easier and faster now. This kind of dilutes a specific geographic style, so there are some kids that have a New York style, some that have taken styles from other places and some that have adapted both.

Do you think the internet has changed riding?

It’s certainly made things a hell of a lot easier on all levels. It’d be interesting to see what would happen if you took the internet out of bmx, a lot of people might fall off the face of the earth.

Is it hard to drag people out of the night-life black-hole around New York City?

I wouldn’t know, I’m in it too, but hey, that’s street riding also.

You got any good Bobby Puleo stories?

He ate dinner at my mom’s house one time and told us of some of his sexual exploits.

Haha brilliant. Who do you usually ride with? And are people ever disappointed when you take them to a spot? Some of those things don’t look too easy to ride.

I usually ride with whoever is in NY — Joey, Oba, Rone — all of the people you would see in an AMPM video. I wouldn’t say people get disappointed but sometimes there have been some chuckles or claims that it is impossible to film because it won’t look like something. To each his own I guess.

Do you agree with Puleo’s attitude to spots? Are you bothered about that kind of thing? 

I’m too busy doing me to be worried about something like a storm door or a crack in the sidewalk for more than a split second.

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Got any good stories from the passenger seat of Scerbo’s Space Cruiser? You must have clocked a fair few miles in that thing.

The amount of laughs and dog hair collected in that van are countless, I wouldn’t even know where to start. We’ve been to what seems like the end of the world and back, but barely still only chipping the surface at times.

That van has become so much a living being and part of the team we had to give it a name — shoutout to Van Home Man.

What are your thoughts on people trying to copy your style? Do you pay much attention to that stuff?

I don’t pay attention to much of bmx anyway, but I think there’s a long list ahead of me of people that get their styles copied.

What’s Zac Costa up to these days? You see much of him?

I’m down In Colombia with him right now, you don’t even wanna know what he’s up to, but sooner or later there will be an all Colombia video he will be making.

What do you get up to outside of riding? You work or anything? 

Normal shit, chilling with homies, exploring cities trying to maximize free time and funds at the same time. I think that’s the object of life.

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got. Cheers for doing this. Any wise words you’d like to add? 

Hit em with it.

Get What Goes On here.

2 thoughts on “Interview: Mark Gralla

  1. Pingback: Interview: Dan Price | CENTRAL LIBRARY

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