A lot of cool things come out of Chicago-three of my favorite foods Chi town pizza, brownies, and Chicago style hotdogs. We also have Chicago to thank for Bill Murray, Walt Disney, and United’s own Mike Medina. The skateboarding world needs to thank Chicago for bringing up the perfector of the heel flip-Neen Williams.
I got to catch up with Neen after skating a demo at Familia HQ in Minneapolis. The Deathwish team visited the ‘Sota on their Deathwish for America tour and the team may have clenched the MN vote.
Hey Neen! Thanks for the time! I always like to start out with some background info. Can you quickly fill us in on your background-how old are you? Where are you from? How long have you been skating? What do you remember about your first skateboard?
Yeah! For sure! I’m 30, gettin kind of old. I’m originally from Chicago but now I live in West Hollywood, California. I’ve lived in Cali for 17 years. I got my first board from my aunt. It was an Element board. I walked around the shop for awhile, and grabbed the one that caught my eye. I liked the graphic back in the day.
As much as it sucks, and things have began to change, being a skater from Chicago is kind of unusual, most guys are east or west coast. What was it like growing up in Chicago skating?
Skating wasn’t that popular when I was growing up. A few kids in my neighborhood skated and that’s how I got into it. I was always seeing their group and I thought they looked like they were having fun. It was hard because really I just skated on the streets. There was a couple of shitty skate parks that we would skate, but really we just made our own way. There wasn’t any guidance for us. I would watch old Zero and Toy Machine videos-Heavy Metal, Baker, and Baker 2G. I’ve always been hyped on the boss and Ellington. A couple of my friends moved out to Cali and I would visit them during the winter and skate. That’s how I got introduced to the real game of skateboarding. The industry is based in California and it’s always sunny which is dope. I moved from Chicago at 22 and moved there for the weather. I don’t think I’d want to go back to Chicago.
Talk about the heel flip! Everything I read and watch with you, people are constantly asking about the heel flip. Can you tell me about it? Why are you so well know for the heel flip and what connection do you have to it?
I do them a lot (laughing). Most people when they skate do a lot of kick flips but really for me, my first trick I learned was a heel flip on the carpet in my house. I learned how to kick flip at the same time and I used to kick flip mostly. I was always twisting my ankle and it became a problem that I had twisted it so many times that I couldn’t’ really do a kick flip anymore. I had to start doing heel flips. They’re really my favorite so I’ll do them forever. That’s just how it is (laughing).
What’s the story behind you getting on Deathwish? How did you start getting boards from them?
I got on Deathwish basically quickly after I moved to California. I started skating with the guys from Shake Junt out there. Shane Hyle hit me up for Shake Junt and I started skating with Reynolds, Ellington, and Shane. We really just started skating every day, and one day they asked me if I wanted to get boards. I was like, “fuck of course!” It was a no brainer!
Can you tell me about the chryotherapy that you participate in?! What is it and why do you do it?
My physical therapist told me about it initially. He explained it as an ice bath on steroids. You go into this tube for three minutes, it’s like -25 blowing at you super gnarly. Like, when your body temp lowers 30 degrees your nervous system kicks in and blood rushes to your major organs to keep them safe. When you’re in there, you get super cold your skin starts burning, after three minutes you come out. Instantly your blood rushes back into the other areas of your body and it lowers the inflammation in your body. I’m not a professional but you should check it out… I like doing good stuff, I’m a professional, you got to take care of yourself.
Your Instagram stories show you cooking all of the time! So, do you follow a special or restricted diet at all to stay healthy? What about your exercise routine? What does “taking care of yourself” mean to you?
I don’t have a special diet. I love to cook though, and I like to make healthy choices when I am cooking, but I’m not vegetarian. I try to buy organic as much as I can, but that’s not always possible. I go to physical therapy once a week with my friend Dr. Eddy, the one who got me started with the cryotherapy. Then I just stretch a lot, wake up and go to the gym. I do maintenance to legs and arms and back to keep it strong. Honestly, I work out for three hours then go skate the rest of the day. I eat a lot of bananas and avocado and I drink a lot of water. I also don’t drink anymore which makes a big difference, I usually end up being the designated driver on most of the trips (laughing.) (Ironically at this point in the interview, a fanboy comes up and offers Neen a joint to smoke. He kindly declined)
Alright, I have to finish this up with a political question. I hope you’re okay with that!
(Laughing) Yeah! I’m down.
If you became president and had to pick one of these guys to be your running mate, who would you pick and why? What would be the first thing you’d work on changing?
For sure I’d pick John Dixon to work with, he’s the best. I’d work to change poverty. I really want to take away money, you know. Everything would be free. No money needed for stuff, we’d bring back bartering.
(Laughing) Great answer! I’d vote for you guys! Neen for Prez! Hey Neen, thanks so much for the time! It’s cool to get to talk to you!
Yeah! I’m ready to go crash at the hotel! Thank you!