Photo: Zach Malfa Kowalski

Coda Skateboards' Jerry Mraz

New York City, USA, 3/25/2008 by Sigurd Tvete
Coda Skateboards' self titled DVD premiered a couple of months ago. 100% skater owned and operated, the Brooklyn, NYC based brand is "an answer" to the other choices out there, according to team rider Jerry Mraz. We caught up with him to find out more about the project.
Hey Jerry, could you please introduce yourself to our readers who might not know your involvement with Coda and what sort of skater you are?
I'm Jerry Mraz, from Jackson, Michigan and I've lived in Brooklyn five years. I'm Coda's most senior man am. Due to necessity I also organize some on the business side and I had full creative control of the production of our video. I've always been a street skater first although I've done my share of bowl trolling. My favorite thing to skate is a cutty bank spot that also has a regulation height ledge in the mix.

What is Coda by the way?
Coda is a grass roots skate effort spawned from Brooklyn, New York. It basically started as an idea in Pat Smith's head and grew from there. It started out as a group of friends who were, and still are, quite dissatisfied with the other choices out there. The company was an answer. Not talking about it, being about it. Not giving a fuck and knowing we were going to be out there trying to contribute in one way or the other anyway. Things fell into place and now we have something brewing that I'm truly proud of. The team is Pat Smith of Maryland, Lurker Lou Sorowsky of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Jay Burton of Groton, Connecticut, Ricky Espinoza of San Jose, TMA, The Mancub: Dave Mitchael of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Conor Fay of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and myself. Jay Burton still lives in Groton, Pat just defected to Portland, and everyone else is here in Brooklyn.

Any international business going on?
We have Uru from Kukunochi corp. slingin' boards in Japan and our guy Youji over there reppin' hard. We have something going in the UK with Drift. For the most part we only sell in the U.S. We only want to sell to skater owned and operated shops, and those are harder to track down outside of the states when you don't know the language. Obviously there are tons of rad shops, especially in Europe, and we are just now trying to get at them.

You just released a self titled movie. How was filming for it?
I filmed most of my part with just me and the guy holding the camera. I really wanted to make a part that was spot specific, trick simplistic, all within the city limits of NYC, either on shit no one had ever filmed on before or in a way that no one had ever stepped to the spot before. It seemed straight forward enough, but I had the damnedest time making it happen. You can pretty much drive yourself nuts trying to keep your ideas fresh for your own part and not plant seeds in everyone else's head. It's tough for most people to grasp it seems, but when it comes down to it, I want is to keep my stuff exclusive and at least get it out there first. I find a spot and sweep it, clear coat it, wax it, crete' it, bondo it, paint it, etc. and after all that work I feel like I deserve to skate it. Me and my friend Bob Puleo have been combing the streets of all the neighborhoods in New York and trying to make the "not spots" into legit spots for a few years now. A lot of people get appalled that we would want to keep stuff exclusive and get it out there first after putting in all those hours of work. Our video was made with that in mind. Admittedly, I let some spots slide in the interest of helping out the project as a whole. All I ask is people give it an honest 20 minutes and take away what you will.

How has the reactions been since you guys premiered the film?
I haven't heard too much in the form of negative response, pretty much all positive. I could break any video down for days and so anything I put out I can also find endless fault with. I'm very over critical about anything remotely relating to skateboarding, and I felt like this video is at least worthy of a watch so we'll see what everyone else thinks.

Are you happy with the result?
Overall I am humbly satisfied.

Any funny stories from the premiere party?
At our premiere in New York, after some projector malfunctions, I pushed play on the DVD player, saw the video come on and went home. Drank a beer in my room. It's an awkward moment feeling like it was all over. Later I realized that just finishing a DVD when you do not have massive distribution is only 33% of the work. I have taken it upon myself to get the video out there. We got all 50 states and a couple countries. Hopefully we'll get a few more.

You guys are know to build your own spots in NYC. What's the process you go through?
Me and Bob drive around every night usually in the outer, rougher neighborhoods where less motivated searchers won't take the time to go. Shit's always rugged, a lot of time the spot needs some help, but only after we determine that it would never get skated the way it really should as is. Lately we've been getting shaken down by undercover narcotics officers in unmarked vehicles quite a bit. They think we're up there trying to cop some hard drugs, but they always let us go after we explain ourselves. If Bob would just get a haircut our operation wouldn't look half as suspicious.

NYC is becoming more and more a world hot spot in skateboard. What is the New York scene like, and is the city skateable all through the year?
Quintessential New York City footage is unmistakable. You can always pick it out of a part. Some people are into it, some aren't. It's not easy to come by. In a city of eight million there's quite a few people here who'll get in your way at every chance. The scene is pretty clicky and all the spots are rough. None of those things are any excuse. A lot of pros come to town looking for a couple of those scraps of quintessential New York City terrain. They almost always want hand outs too. I have a couple of filmers and a couple photographers that I trust. As far as the cold, I've skated streets through this whole winter. As long as it's above O degrees Celsius I can't complain. I'm fortunate to be here so I don't complain either way.

What's the Dobbin Block AKA the D-Block? You're coming out with a film soon right?
The blocks are just skate houses where lots of folks usually get a spot to crash when they come to town. There are plenty of stories, but I don't want people thinking it's a frat house situation. Everybody in New York parties, some more than others, I'm here to skate. All I know is if a video really does happen it'll be in HD, ruckus, and made by my little afro clad buddy Jeff Ricker.

Are you guys friends with the B-Block crew from Albany or is there intense rivaling going on?
Albany dudes are tight, Curt Rapp came down last weekend.

What's coming up for Coda now?
We're making a zine that'll double as a catalog. It'll be out with our next run of boards which will feature some of Lurker Lou's crazy Elvis collages. The zine/catalog may also be connected with some other east coast powerhouse board companies as a joint production, but I can't talk about it yet. The whole team will be out in SF next week. Hopefully we'll get away from the bar long enough to shoot Corbett once or twice. We're are trying to get out to Europe for sure. I fannagled a free subscription to Kingpin for the last five years and have been closely watching what's going on over there. Spots blow my mind every time. Hopefully we can get some distributors out there while were at it. If anyone out there knows someone who is part of a skater run shop or distribution who is similarly disheartened by skateboarding's present mainstream debacle and wants to get something going, please hit us up.

Also, as an American talking to my fellow Europeans, please excuse our national government. You must understand that in a two party system where both parties are controlled by the same financiers, we truly have no control. I hope everyone realizes that skateboarding can be different if we don't sell it at a pittance to corporations.

The Coda Skateboard film is now available at Josh Stewart's site:
Head over to to pick up your copy today.
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