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e-Briefing | Celebrity Setup

Roll Model

Entrepreneurial skateboarding star keeps videos of his performances close at hand, on his hard drive.

March 22, 2001

Tony Hawk is an international sports star, but if you're over 40 there's a good chance you've never heard of him. Hawk's game is competitive skateboarding, which caught fire in the early 1980s as a kind of sports equivalent of punk music, complete with wild showmanship, a dress code and a dose of antisocial behavior.

Through it all, Hawk has been the consummate professional and top draw, deftly making the transition from skateboarding's ragged beginnings to its smoothed-out image as part of the X Games and other media events. Along the way, he won nearly every major competition, started his own skateboard and clothing company and appeared in ads for Gap clothing, Campbell's Soup and several other products. Two "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" video games based on his airborne tricks are perennial bestsellers.

Hawk, 32, retired from competition in 1999 but travels almost constantly to promote his products and make guest appearances, most of which include an exhibition of his trademark skateboarding tricks. He lives with his wife and two children in Carlsbad.

DESKTOP: I have a Macintosh G4 and the Cinema Display with a 22-inch screen that is really flat. It leaves so much room on my desk that it looks bare.

I use the desktop mostly for video work--I have all my recent footage stored in the hard drive. If I am doing a television interview and they want a shot or a sequence, I can dump the footage from the computer straight onto videotape.

Skaters were among the first to work with video on desktops. You couldn't capture the intricacies of a trick on traditional 35-millimeter film; things would happen too fast. Instead, we would shoot video at a high frame rate and then take screen grabs to put together a sequence that could be printed in a magazine. The resolution would not be as good as with film, but it would do the trick. And you didn't need a lot of heavy equipment.

Now I do media production for my Web sites, and

LAPTOP: The new titanium G4 PowerBook. I was in San Francisco the day it was announced and I ordered it the same day online. It's awesome. I can plug my camera into the FireWire port and download everything I shot at an event.

I pretty much do all my e-mailing on the PowerBook, especially because I travel so much. At home, I have AirPort [a wireless Internet connection] hooked into a DSL so I can go online anywhere in the house.

Q. Members of your club Web site can e-mail you directly.

I read every one of them, but I can't answer all of them myself. My sister and I go through them, and most of the time the answer is already somewhere on the site or someplace else we can send them to. Half are requests for directions on how to do tricks; she refers them to an instructional video I did that they can buy.

But if there is a genuine request, sometimes when someone is sick or it's a unique question, I answer it myself.

HAND-HELD: The Visor Prism. I keep all my phone numbers and my schedule on it. It syncs up to my PowerBook.

BOOKMARKED SITES: I was a big Napster fan, but I guess that is coming to an end. It was fun while it lasted.

Q. What kind of music did you download?

Mostly things I had on vinyl or CD and had lost over the years. The last thing I downloaded was the first "Rodney on the Roq" compilation album put together by a DJ [Rodney Bingenheimer] at KROQ. It had a lot of punk bands from the early '80s.

I go to some skating sites. is one of the best. I also check in with

I like humor sites. The Onion [] is one of my big favorites, and I just got turned on to Giantheads [], which has funny animations and movie reviews. It's really great. Don't miss the "Tiny DJ" animation.

CELL PHONE: I've got the Motorola V8160 that's really small. My friends give me a hard time; they say I'm going to lose it. And I have the Nokia 8890 for when I'm traveling outside of the country. I just took it to Australia.

FAVORITE TECH TOY: My PowerBook by far. It's my entertainment center, my movie player, my music center, my communications center.

Q. You watch DVDs on the long flights you take?

Yes, all the time. Last one I watched was "Animal Factory" with Edward Furlong. Pretty heavy movie.

HOME THEATER SYSTEM: We just had one installed in the house that has speakers in every room, music outside, a satellite dish. They put in a combination Sony satellite receiver with TiVo. It's awesome. I set it to watch "Saturday Night Live," "The Sopranos," "Sex in the City," "Jackass."

Q. That's the MTV show that has people doing dangerous stunts?

Right. I've been on it a couple of times.


--As told to DAVID COLKER

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