Flashback Friday Interview: Eddie Cleveland from Jan/Feb 2009

Interview By Jeff Zielinski, with help from Marco Svizzero and Zack Costa

Photos By Jeff Zielinski

I think personality has a lot to do with how someone rides his bike. Take Eddie Cleveland for example. If you know Eddie, he is always doing what he wants when he wants. He doesn't have a care in the world most days and you can see that in his riding—it's almost effortless. His innovative bike setup and style blew the scene up a few years ago worldwide. Since then, Eddie has been a nomad between Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Although, life was not always like this for Eddie; he's originally from Northern California, but spent a lot of time growing up in a small town on the coast of Oregon called Lincoln City. Lincoln City is filled with rednecks, weird coastal people, and dick head skateboarders! Maybe this is where Eddie learned to fight so well. I can remember a time when Eddie was headed down a different path away from BMX and the lifestyle he knows today. Lucky for him there were a few good people who started him down the right path. BMX or not, he still is a good friend and one thing is for sure, you can expect a lot out of Eddie in the next few years. He has some big plans in the works. I just hope he comes back to Portland soon. –Chester Blacksmith

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How many times have you headbutted someone?
Oh, you want to bring up the drunk me?

If you were drunk when you did it.
Enough times to know it doesn't feel good the next morning and you feel like meathead.

That might take only one time…
Yeah, true. I think I've only let two headbutts fly in my time.

Trick-wise, what kind of stuff did you want to shoot for this interview?
At first I had a whole bunch of crazy stuff I wanted to do. But then I started thinking; I don't do crazy shit all the time—that's not me. I want this interview to be real, like just shoot me doing what I do every day.

Do you think we achieved that?
Yeah, I think we did. I feel good about it. I just wanted to try and show what I'm up to as of lately. That's what interviews are about right? I think the last few interviews were out of control (laughs). I had to step in and put a stop to all that madness before kids start killing themselves.

Do you think that's the future of street riding, kids killing themselves?
Who knows? I think it's always been the same, some people like to send it and some people like to chill and do whatever.

True, but you have to admit. The kids these days…
Yeah, kids are crazy, but it's just progression. I'm not hating on people sending themselves at all, if you're having fun sending it then send it.

Do you feel like you have an influence on kids?
I've had some people tell me that they're psyched and some not. But I don't let stuff like that get to me—if people are into what I'm doing, that's awesome. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm having fun and that's what riding a bike is all about—fun.

Is there anything that bums you out about BMX right now?
I'm kinda bummed on how cliquey BMX is now. I have friends who don't even kick it with each other.

Yeah, why is it like that? Shouldn't riders stick together?
We all need to unite. We have skaters and all sorts of other people hating on us, why must we hate on each other so much?

While I was in San Francisco with you, we had a skater complain to us in a bar and then the next day at 3rd and Army, that one guy approached our whole crew and started to lecture us about the ledges. Is that the normal way up there?
No, that dude is just a short little hater. He was mad because we were all taller than him.
Out of all the skaters in SF there is only a handful of BMX haters and those dudes will fade away, eventually. That dude said, "San Francisco is a skateboarding Mecca not a biking Mecca." that dude was such an asshole.

Aaron Huff and Rich Hirsch try to keep the Northern California/Portland, Oregon, connection strong—what's up with the 503, 707 connection?
Those two dudes have so much love for BMX and their scenes. I have so much respect for them. They have done a lot for their friends and BMX over the years.

How does riding in San Francisco differ from riding in Portland or L.A.?
Riding here is completely different because no matter what, in San Francisco, you are riding. Wherever you go, you are riding your bike. Nobody I know has a car here. Cubby [Kyle Peck] doesn't have a car. Jackson [Ratima] doesn't have a car. Nobody has a car here. The difference between Portland… Portland is a bunch of lazy people, to be honest. I love you guys, you know you are all my homies. But you need to get the hell out of Goods and go ride your damn bikes. I'm a victim of the Goods thing, too, though, we all do that all day long when I am there. And for L.A… I'm going to probably be living there soon. Even though I would rather live in SF, I love all my L.A. homies, don' t get me wrong. But in San Francisco, all you need is a bike, some weed, your homies, and you have a good time. It's as easy as that. Just kick it and go down to Hubbas and you will find someone cool to ride with. San Francisco is where it's at. Actually, the West Coast is where it's at.

Is that what it means to be "coastal"?
(Laughs) It's kind of a way of life. There is not much to do when you live on the coast of Oregon. You kinda have to be creative and find your own shit to do. Being coastal could mean you're a crazy dude who likes to surf, skate, ride, camp, and do all sorts of crazy stuff. It could also mean you're a complete scumbag that sucks at life. I think everyone who's coastal is a little bit of both.

Do you have any stories about the coast?
Yeah, a bunch, but here is the first one to pop into my head; my homie and I went on a road trip and he is a skateboarder. We stopped in Reedsport, Oregon, and he tried to do a beer run and he got grabbed on his way out the door. And then he dropped the beer and the dude wrestled him down and he weaseled his way out away from the dude and ripped his sweater off. He ripped his way out of the sweater, and his keys were in the pocket—in the pouch pocket, you know? Then he ran back to the car, but he had this little S10 Blazer thing and it wouldn't turn all the way off, like when you turn it all the way off and it locks, but if you keep it on you can still pull the key out. So he runs out and I'm still sitting in the car, and he yells, "Pick me up down the street!" So I hopped in the driver's seat and started the car, and floored it up the street and picked him up. We hauled ass and we went down the 101. We got to this town called Port Orford—I swear to God that this town is in the witness protection program. The shadiest people live there that I have ever met in my whole life. We pulled up to this store called the Circle K and I accidentally turned the car all of the way off and I looked at him and I said, "Dude, I just turned the car all of the way off. What are we going to do?" We tried to start it with a screwdriver, but nothing was working. Then these girls pulled up and they were trying to get this old guy to buy them beer, and my homey is old enough to buy them beer, so he says, "I can buy you beer, what are you guys doing tonight? We are stuck here and there is no way we are getting our car started. What are you guys doing tonight?" And they were like, "come out to this party with us." So he buys them three 30 packs of Bud and we got in the car with them and drove so far up into these woods with them. We got up into the woods and there were a bunch of fucking rednecks just going crazy and blaring country music. We partied for at least three hours, drunk as fuck, and all of a sudden these rednecks pour buckets of water on the fire and put it out. Then they started up chainsaws, dude, and yelled "Everyone get off of our property, get the fuck off my property!" Me and my homey took off running, got close to the car because it's so dark and we could barely see it. We were trying to find the car, and the two girls got in their car with these two rednecks making out. We were like, "What are you doing? Get us out of here. Take us back to our car so we can try to get it started." They said, "No, no, no, it's all good, hop in the car." So we get in the car with these two girls and the rednecks, they dropped the rednecks off and we went back to their house. I slept in a tent freezing my ass off while my homey was chillin' with a girl—just my luck. Anyway, we woke up in the morning and I got out of this tent and there was a mini ramp in this girl's yard. It was full of holes. She said her brother used to skate before he went to college. I sessioned this mini ramp for a while and then the girl's parents came home. They were out of town for like two days before we got there. They were all pissed off and kicked us out, so we went down to the skatepark with our sleeping bags and four dollars to our name because we spent all our money. That's when these girls rolled up riding horseback. This girl had a towel—no saddle. She took the towel off because she didn't want me to get sweat on it. So I'm riding this horse bareback at the skatepark, kicking the shit out of it to get it to move. Since it didn't have any reigns, I had to hold on to the hair. I was directing this horse by pushing its head in the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to go on the back of the cradle, but it wouldn't go. Eventually my friend's dad drove five hours to give us his extra keys and we got the hell out of there and continued our journey.

So, do wild stories like that have anything to do with why they used to call you "Fast Eddie?"
Well, my family used to call me that as a kid. I think it's the only nickname for people named Eddie. It faded away, then years later some dudes up in Oregon started calling me Fast Eddie again. I think because I jumped down some stuff or something or maybe it's because I partied pretty hard for a 16-year-old? I don't know.

Where did the name fast Eddie come from anyways? Who is the OG Fast Eddie?
We have no idea who the OG Fast Eddie is, maybe we'll Google it later.

In the meantime, how do you think the Internet is affecting BMX?
It's all bullshit because anyone can go on the Internet and voice his or her opinion. Some dude who has never done anything or accomplished anything in BMX can go on the Internet and talk shit about someone who has done something in BMX and accomplished something. I think the Internet is bullshit! It's 2000-hate, we are about to be in "2000-shine." So things should be getting better (laughs). I'm in the room with Zack Costa, who did a barspin-to-Smith grind down the Chinagrinds double-set ledge. That's some crazy shit and it was on the Web. It should've been an ender in a DVD. Fuck the Web shit, it's all about DVDs. Working on a DVD is fun and it takes time, Web videos get lost in a day or two. There is nothing better than getting a DVD and popping it into the DVD player and watching it with your friends. Kickin' back, doin' what you do, maybe talking shit on it, showin' love, whatever. You don't want to crowd around your computer screen with all your homies. There is nothing fun about that. The only good videos to watch on the Internet are porn, man.

Mike Ardelean wants to know why you can't keep anything for a long time—cars, motorcycles, cell phone plans, etc.?
I get burnt out on stuff kinda quick sometimes. I used to have a badass motorcycle and I would still have it if my ex-girlfriend didn't sell it. I think Ryan Sher is riding it around Portland. He owns it now. My cell phone plan, I have only had two numbers in the past five years. But sometimes dropping everything and starting new is fun, and interesting, you know? Keep it moving. I change up shit every now and then—mostly just where I live. I move around a lot. That is pretty much the only thing that changes for me as of lately.

Name one thing you have owned that you have had longer than a year.
I have this GG Allin shirt. It's pit stained and fucked up, but it's comfy. And this miniature motorcycle made out of scrap, bearings, and spark plugs. It looks like an old Harley; it's a motorcycle that my grandpa gave me when I was a kid. Somehow I have hung on to that for a long time. I will probably have it forever. It sits nicely on my shelf.

How did your first day back in SF from L.A. go?
We were here for about a half an hour, we go down to the clock tower, we are just chillin', saying what's up to the homies. And then a tweaker came up and starts talking shit. Next thing I know, I look over my shoulder and there are ten BMX riders beating the fuck out of this guy. He is running for his life, people are throwing 40s at his head. A 40 bounced off his head and didn't break. Then D-Block, Luikanged him, if you know Mortal Combat, it's a high-flying kick to the face. The whole time, [Jeff] Z. is thinking what is wrong with these kids in San Francisco. These dudes around here are savages, they don't put up with shit. If you come to San Francisco, and you try to fuckin’ mouth off, you might get hurt, I wouldn't suggest doing that. I'm not trying to make everyone look like assholes here, but it's real. I am not bullshitting you. So after the bum basically got his skull crushed in, we decide to take off because we didn't want to deal with the heat. After that we headed back to my place and went out for a few drinks. Later that night, I woke up and heard, "Somebody call the cops! He has hidden me in the basement for four hours. Call the fucking cops!" I wake up and I'm like what the? I yell, "Shut up bitch!" The chick yells back, "I will shut up when someone calls the cops!" I kind of pass out, probably an hour later I hear a knock on the door. I get up and there is a midget Asian cop at the door. He asks me how to get into the basement because there is a guy who held this woman hostage in there for four hours. I said you just get through right there through that door. He asks if he can come through my apartment. He stomps through and almost stomps on Z's head while he was sleeping on the floor and makes his way to the back door. I go back to sleep and I haven't heard anything about it since. I'm pretty sure the chick was just cracked out.

So, what is your current living situation?
It is kind of up in the air. Actually it is always up in the air. I have been paying rent for a little while at this place I am living now. I am back and forth from L.A. My girl lives in L.A., so I go down there and kick it with her and ride with the homies down there, the L.A. crew, All, Rob, Skylar, Miles, Barney, Meron, Andrew Jackson, Hernan, the LAB dudes. Then I come up to SF and kick it with the BayGame homies. Pretty soon I'm going to hold it down, either in L.A. or San Francisco. [I will] likely be bouncing around for the next couple years between both places—like I have been for a while.

What's the longest couch tour you have done?
Well, couches are a luxury, kinda. I could give you my floor tour, though. It has probably been the last couple years before I started paying rent earlier this year. I don't want to sound like a loser or scumbag, I just wasn't feeling staying in one spot so I had to bounce around.

Why don't you move back to Portland?
You try living in seven months of rain! That is why I don't live in Portland.

How rad is your cousin Lloyd?
He is awesome. He is a good kid. He is young. He is a party animal for being so young. He will get his shit together. We all go through that phase. I have nothing bad to say about him. He is a really good rider. He is kind of like a mini Chase Hawk. He goes really high in the air and does super big inverts.

Who do you think has been killing it lately?
I always say Mike Aitken. He is the fucking man. Mikey is sick, on and off his bike. I didn't realize it that he is only a year and a half or two years older than me. He is the baddest dude ever. He is the realest dude. Nothing fake about that guy. Plus all my homies who I ride with everyday. Even if we aren't riding, we are killing it. Brain cells, 40s, street spots, whatever, we kill whatever is in front of us.

We touched upon what coastal is, but what is Coast?
Coast is this little project me and a friend of mine have going on. It should be cool, we're just going to try and make stuff that we like and hope others like it, too.

Have you picked out any guys you would like to ride for the company?
All of that stuff is still up in the air. We might not even have a team and just hook up all the homies who still have to buy stuff… Well, that kinda is a team—I don't know what the hell it's going to be, I guess just wait and see.

How do you look out for your homies?
Whatever I'm a part of… Coast, Lotek, Fremont, Fit—you know I put them on. I try to put my all my friends on with anything I'm a part of. It wouldn't be as fun if my friends weren't around. I think that's why I don't travel far because I can't bring the squad. I just try to show love, you know? I wouldn't have it any other way except to put more friends on.

What's up with the fixed gear bike?
I love my fixed gear bike. It's so dangerous and fun to ride around. I just try to go fast, it gets me around pretty quick and I don't have a license or a car. So it's my only source of transportation besides my BMX for now.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I could say Barcelona or some other crazy place that obviously has a bunch of crazy stuff to ride, but right know I'm pretty content with where I'm at. But I will go to all those crazy places one of these days. As soon as I can bring all my friends at the same time because that's when I have the most fun on my bike. It ain't no fun if the homies can't have none.

Where do you think you fit into the big BMX picture?
I don't know where I fit in and that's the way I like it. I'm just going to freestyle it.

I hear that, so you want to wrap this up?
Yeah, thanks to everyone who has helped me out over the years, the list could go on and on. And Mikey, stay up, I know you will be fine by the time this comes out. I just want to let you know that me and all the homies are pulling for you.