Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2002

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[whitespace] Steve Caballero
Photograph by Paul Myers

Steve Caballero

Smokin' the Halfpipe

By Todd Inoue

IN THE DAYS before skateboarding could earn you a citation, downtown San Jose was a skateboard Mecca. Pioneers like Jeff Prosenko, Mike Kendall, Corey O'Brien, John Fabriquer, Salman Agah and the late Tim Brauch lit up the parking lots and elementary school playgrounds before turning pro. Today, skateboarding's outlaw status is bigger than ever. It's also a full-blown industry with clothes, shoes, videos, games, magazines, television shows and music tours--all built on the backs of underground legends, many of whom emerged from the 408 area code.

One name is inextricably linked to San Jose: Steve Caballero. The 37-year-old shredder, original Bones Brigade member (along with Tony Hawk, Tommy Guerrero and Mike McGill) and current Campbell resident has been at the heart and soul of San Jose skateboarding since he first dropped in on his first halfpipe back in 1976. He has tricks named after him (the Caballerial and its modified Half-Cab), signature shoes and decks. He stays current on the street-skating scene by traveling the world on the Warped Tour and on skateboard-related appearances.

In his spare time, he hangs in Campbell, designs skateboards and shoes, plays with his reunited skate-punk band, the Faction, rides motocross and takes care of his 5-year-old daughter, Kayla.

Metro: Where's the best place to skate?

Caballero: The Van's Skateboard Park in Milpitas, mostly. I don't skate much in Campbell. I used to go to little public parks here and there like Hathaway Park, Starbird Park, Barbeque Blocks by San Tomas Aquino. But in San Jose? As for the San Jose skate scene, the city hasn't done jack. I'm pretty disappointed in the city of San Jose.

What have or haven't they done?

They haven't done one positive thing for skateboarding. Cities outside of San Jose have made cement parks and tons of cool places to skate. The only thing that San Jose has done is ban it. They haven't done anything to support their community and the kids that love skateboarding. I'm ashamed to say I'm from San Jose when it comes to being a skateboarder.

Which is a drag because of all the pros that came out of here.

Our scene is because of us--the under-ground--not because of anything the city has done. It's what the people brought to make San Jose respectable. I remember when they banned skateboarding downtown for a couple of blocks. People use skateboarding as transportation to go home, and I remember hearing stories of people getting tickets, just for going home. That's crazy.

How long does it take to recover after you eat it hard?

Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months. It depends how hard I fall. It definitely is harder to recover. I have to watch myself and try not to get hurt too much.

You have a daughter now. Are you a lot more careful than you used to be?

Not necessarily. I think the day I'm careful when it comes to skateboarding is probably the day I quit. You're always taking a chance when you step on a skateboard. That's what I choose to do for a living--taking chances all the time.

Where do you get skateboard gear?

Back in the day, it was Sessions, but it's no longer there. Circle A is pretty good. I don't know how you could describe how one shop is better over another.

Oh, you know: diversity of product, hours, people who work there that skate and know what they're talking about.

Yeah, I might get in trouble if I answer that. They're all good. {Laughs.}

When was the last time you ate it?

On my skateboard or motorcycle? I've been riding a lot of motocross. I ride in Hollister. I ride over there off of 580 at a place called Club Moto in Livermore. I've ridden a couple supercross tracks. I've ate it a couple times pretty hard. Pretty gnarly sport.

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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