Originally Luling, Louisiana (a small town about 20 miles outside of New Orleans), then Baton Rouge for the 5 years after high school, and now Long Beach, California where I’m living my dream.
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for Transworld RideBMX Magazine. I’m the Associate Online Editor. I shoot photos, film and edit videos, do interviews, write stories, and post content to our site, RideBMX.com. I also do freelance photography, graphic design, and writing whenever opportunities arise. With that said, send more work my way! (www.thafat1.com)
Did you ever imagine you would work for RideBMX?
I remember sitting in yearbook class during my senior year of high school when I realized I could lay out pages for a BMX magazine like I was doing for my school yearbook and have a career that I loved, involving BMX. I went to school for graphic design, but always had the mindset of, “After college, I’m packing up and moving to SoCal and doing whatever it takes to work at Ride.” I eventually realized that doing graphic design for a magazine wouldn’t allow me to travel, so I shifted my focus to photography and editorial. I thought about working at Ride every day for more than four years before I got the call from Keith Mulligan asking if I’d be interested in a job. I believe what you think about, focus on, and work for will become your reality. I never had any doubt that I’d work at Ride. I still consider it a literal “dream come true,” and am always thankful for what I have. After going through the process I did to get here, I can’t say I’m “surprised” or “shocked” that I’m here…just happy to have accomplished my goal.
When got the job at RideBMX, how hard was it to move across the country and leave everything behind?
I was ready, man. I waited for that moment for so long, and I couldn’t have been more stoked. The only thing that was difficult was the situation with my girlfriend at the time. The long distance relationship was a rough deal for about eight months; then we broke up. Now I’m single and things are the way they should be. I’m learning and growing as a person every day and couldn’t be happier.
Leaving behind family and friends was a big deal, but by the time the move actually happened, I was mentally prepared. Once I got out here, Jeff Zielinski helped me out a lot. He played a huge part in keeping me sane while not knowing many people in the area. I can’t thank him enough for being the great friend he has been.
Since you’re in California, how does your website,www.LouisianaBMX.com stay updated?
I launched the original design of that site nearly five years ago on my birthday. And since I’m a sucker for tradition and schedules, I redesigned it every year and launched the new versions on my birthday. Last December, after living in California for a few months, I redesigned the site once and for all, turning it into a simple blog. I gave access to the blog to several riders around Louisiana to keep it alive. I post on there every once in a while with random stuff, but I don’t plan on doing anything more with it at this point besides maybe give more people access to update it. The site was “my baby” for a long time, and I’m really stoked on how it worked out for so many years.
What is the best part about working for Ride?
Well, there is the obvious answer, that I love and relate to the work I do. But besides that…Traveling, hands down! If I didn’t get to travel, I don’t think I would work there. BMX and seeing the world is where my passion lies, and I don’t want a job that doesn’t involve both of those things. Getting to experience new things is the best. And when the company you work for pays you to do it, even better! Some people may not realize it, but when I’m on a trip, I’m getting my salary and the company is paying for my food and stuff, so I’m not even spending my salary! If I could be on the road or traveling for months at a time, I would do it. (Even if I had to pay for my own food! Haha.)
The next best thing is getting hooked up from different companies. I’m always super grateful when I get free clothes, shoes, bike parts, or whatever. And knowing that it helps that company allows me to graciously accept the products without feeling guilty for taking something for nothing.
How does a typical day go for you?
Overall, thee are no “typical” days. If the days become “typical” for more than a week, I start to get real antsy and freak out mentally. Luckily I have the freedom to change up my days so I don’t fall into a strict routine and lose interest in what I’m doing. With that said…
Office day: Wake up at 8, leave the house at 9, be in the office at 9:30. Check emails, post news/press releases on the site, then look at my “to do” list. Some days I may edit videos all day, other days I look at all the photos in my folders and figure out who I want to do interviews or features with. Then I write up all the questions or whatever and send out a bunch of emails. And of course, build stuff for the site. Office days are typically boring, but at least it is still BMX. I try to leave the office at 4:30 or 5 and hope to beat traffic.
Work from home day: Wake up at 8, start working at the computer by 8:30. Most of the time when I work at home it is because I know I’ll be editing videos all day or building articles—the tedious stuff I have to concentrate on to get done without distractions. When I say, “build articles,” I’m talking about taking the photos and interviews or stories and putting them into our site system. I try to build plenty of stuff in advance so my iCal is full of stuff for the upcoming week. This ensures we have something new on the site every day. When I’m at home, I usually work until 6 or 7, sometimes later. Today I worked at home all day without shoes or a shirt on. Pretty sweet.
Out of the office day: This may be covering a contest, on a road trip, or shooting/filming with people within driving distance. These are the days I’m most stoked on, even though they usually involve the most hours and work. These days are generally non-stop with shooting photos and video, and/or rushing to the computer to post something as soon as it happens, like at the Dew Tour or on Road Fools.
Do you find a lot of time to ride?
I ride as much as I want to. There may be a week or two that goes by that I don’t really feel like riding. Then there are other times that I ride several days in a row and love it. No matter what is going on, there is always time to ride if you want to. Usually if I’m in the office or working at home a lot, I’m not motivated to get out and ride after sitting at the computer all day. When I’m traveling or out shooting, I tend to have that desire more. The hard part isn’t finding time to ride, it is making that time line up with other people’s schedules that I want to ride with.
Is working for the “industry” all it is cracked up to be?
I’m not sure what others have “cracked it up to be,” but for me, it is great. I feel like I’m a part of something that I have always loved, and I really enjoy hearing what other “industry guys” have to say about things. When I’m around people like Keith Mulligan, Robbie Morales, Ian Morris, Ron Bonner, etc, I listen to everything they say, trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I’m definitely still new to the industry, but so far, so good. I’ve definitely become jaded, where certain things aren’t as cool or special as they used to be, but that is to be expected. Overall, I think any time you work where your passion is, it is a great thing.
Where are some of your favorite places to ride?
The most fun I’ve had in the past few years on my bike was Ray’s MTB Park on Road Fools a few months ago. I hardly picked up my camera that day because I was too busy cruising around the wooden rhythm section with a huge smile on my face!
Also, I will always consider the Louisville cement park to be a place that changed the way I look at riding. The first time I went there was my first “big” road trip; it was such an eye-opening experience. Other than that, I really love pulling up to a city I’ve never been to, taking the bike off the rack, and just cruising. That since of excitement of the new and unknown is always amazing.
How did you get the name “Fat Tony”?
Oh man, I’ve told this story more times than I can possibly count. Haha… Back in ninth grade I was riding a quarter pipe in my friend’s backyard with a group of riders in my town. Brock Gomez (who has been filming for Props recently) said he always wanted to give someone a nickname that “stuck.” Since I was the newest guy in the group, I got the name. They blurted out a handful of names, and when “Fat Tony” came out they said it sounded like a mafia name. It was funny to them because it was so unlike me. Even though my real name isn’t Tony, it stuck… It is annoying when people call me Tony since that’s not my real name. Haha. I prefer Fat, just. It is short and simple. I know some people hate me because of my name, but my friends have been calling me that for nearly ten years so, it’s what I’m used to and comfortable with. But seriously, if you don’t like it, call me whatever you want. I’m not trying to make enemies or piss people off.
Are there any new and exciting things going on around the Ride office or in general you can tell us about?
Oh man…wait ’till you see the next issue! I can’t say anything specific about it, but I’m really pumped on it. It’s a whole new layout and design, and I think people are really going to like it. It’s going to have a lot more lifestyle and culture in it, too.
With the site, we are waiting for a redesign, but I’m not sure when that will be launched. Hopefully sooner than later…We all know it is long overdue. Before the full redesign comes, there will be a new section added where people can upload their own photos and videos.
Other than that, I’m excited about something I’m working on for the magazine with Johnny Devlin. That guy is absolutely amazing and one of my new favorite riders. Hopefully the idea we are working on will surface within the next few issues.
You get a lot of emails from people submitting photos and videos, what is the best part from that, and what is the worst part of it?
This is the part of my job that I dislike the most. I can’t stand sifting through reader photos! I’ve seen 10,000 shitty photos in the past year and a half! AHH! Haha. But it’s not even the lack of quality in the photos that gets to me; it’s how lazy people are when sending stuff. You have to be professional about things if you want people to take you seriously. If you send in a few terrible photos or video grabs with no names or text in the email, how am I supposed to perceive that? On the other hand, if you send in some decent images with captions, names, and a little introduction to yourself (spelled correctly, with proper grammar, etc.) I see you as a legit dude trying to make it somewhere and I will do anything in my power to help you on your journey. But you have to put in the effort first.
What is your favorite part about living in California compared to Louisiana, or the other way around?
The best part of Louisiana was the friends, family, and food. I definitely miss a good fried seafood platter! The best part of California is the weather and endless possibilities and opportunities. There is so much going on here compared to back home, especially in our world of BMX.
What are some of your favorite riding memories?
Riding my ass off at Ray’s MTB Park during Road Fools! Also, any story from a road trip that I can tell people for years on end is a good memory. Even if it is a “bad” memory, in the long run, it is still a good one and I’m happy I had the experience. Stitches in the groin in St. Louis comes to mind as one of those “bad,” but “good” memories. Thanks to Brock Gomez for being there for that one! Haha.
I’m over them… After updating the Ride site all the time, I don’t really surf the web anymore. However, I still spend some time on MySpace and looking at other BMX sites. Of course I do the normal online stuff too like credit cards, bank accounts, airlines, etc. And when I’m not reading books about it, I sometimes research stuff about money, investing, or whatever else I’m trying to learn about at the time.
If there was one thing in this world you haven’t or can’t do, what would it be and why?
If theres something I want to do, I eventually do it. I truly believe you can do anything. Whenever I think of something new I want to do, I immediately start figuring out a way to make it happen. I have a huge, ongoing “to do” list including short-term and long-term things. Some of those are: go to Hawaii, scuba dive, paraglide (which will be checked off next month), go to France, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica, and Amsterdam (those should be checked off in ’08), become a millionaire by the time I’m 30, and be financially free by the age of 40 so I never have to work again unless I want to.
Is there any shout outs or thanks you have?
Thanks to Keith Mulligan, Jeff Zielinski, and Ryan Fudger at Ride for giving me the opportunity to work with them. Huge thanks to Jeff Zielinski for being a great friend and mentor in the crazy world known as California. Thanks to Brock Gomez for pushing me in a number of ways. Thanks to all the industry guys who talk to me (or around me) and allow me to learn from them. Thanks to Marco Massei at Props for letting me go on Road Fools and all the other companies and people who have helped make traveling possible. Thanks to all the companies that help me out with products including Fox, Odyssey, Oakley, Shadow, Nike 6.0, and a whole bunch of others. Thanks to Terry Adams for being an amazing friend. Thanks to Bobby Carter for being a friend, inspiration, and motivator. Thanks to Terry Adams and Catfish for introducing me to a life-altering way of looking at social dynamics. Thanks to my family and friends for the support. And of course, thanks for this interview and the opportunity to write so much. Hopefully a few people read it. Haha.