You may know him as Justin, Stan, J-Money the Mountain Man, or the guy from that show, Last Resort. Once described as a “snowboard journalist” by this very publication, Justin, or Stan, as he is more commonly known, has long been the sole flag bearer on his crusade to critique snowboarding with comedy. His show provides a rare perspective not otherwise found in snowboarding, and his opinions, while pointed, are well refined and refreshing. His ability to process his surroundings and scrutinize their reality has allowed him to carve out a niche in the media landscape not previously explored, and as such, it felt like due time for an interview. We invite you to continue below as we attempt to peel off the film surrounding the man with two names.
Let's get right to it, where did 'Stan' come from?
Well, it’s a long story. Snowboarding has always been the cornerstone in my life, but in college my perception of snowboarding changed. I was living in a house of snowboard homies–kind of like a party house known as the Rat Dog Manor.
The fabled Burlington, Vermont snowboarding house…
Yeah. We had a mini ramp, and we just threw down. Whatever, we were crazy and I’ve always been zany, always been cracking jokes, and always been loud–almost to a fault maybe. I started referring to everyone that I would see as Stan. Instead of saying “What’s up man?” I would say, “What’s up Stan?” Before you know it, I’m calling like 100 people Stan–and they’re calling me Stan back.
That's a lot of Stans.
Yeah, so at this point in Vermont, most people know me as Justin, but my real, true friends know me as Stan. Then I moved to Portland with no job and no place to live. I emailed Brooke [Geery] at YoBeat. I was familiar with YoBeat, and I was like, I make jokes, I’m zany, and that's their shtick–making fun of snowboarding. The interview was very weird and casual. They made me freestyle rap on the spot, which, I fucking nailed, ’cause I was rapping a lot in college.
Then, I was just their intern. At first, I started making comics, which were mad wack. They were called the Toeside Terrors. I’m not proud of them. At this point, I had kind of created my pen name as Stan. Mostly because–this is funny to think about–I didn’t want my real name attached to it. This was at a time where I still imagined a more grandiose job in snowboarding.
So 'Stan' was to throw potential employers off your trail.
Right, and so before you know it, I’m all of a sudden Stan–it’s completely switched. In Vermont, everyone who knew me well called me Stan, and everyone else called me Justin. In Portland, everyone who knew me well called me Justin, and everyone else called me Stan.
That's hilarious, and while we're on alter egos, you mentioned your rapping career–do you have a rap name?
Yeah, I've donned a couple. My first rap name, when I was 18, was the DreamCatcha.
Because I did, in fact, wear a dream catcher around my neck. With beads that I sewed on myself. Then I became J-Money the Mountain Man.
Most recently it became Young Mountain Baby. But now I don’t rap anymore. I love and respect hip-hop so much that I realized what I was doing was actually… yeah, I love hip-hop too much to do that.
What is it like in the final hours working on an episode? Do you get stressed?
It’s funny; I have a constant struggle internally with whether or not I like doing it all by myself. On one hand, it's really hard. There are countless times where it’s fucking 3 am, and I’ve been up for 12 hours, and I’m like, "Is this joke funny?" I would say that at least half of the time I decide to cut it out. In my head, I’m always like, "I’ll talk about this later." And more often than not, I never do. Once I’m done with an episode, it's like, alright, what’s up with the next one, you know?
Have you always worked alone?
I don’t really know how that came to be, but I think essentially it was a mix of two things. And this is maybe harsh to say–but I found working in a room, working directly with Brooke, to be really challenging. I just realized that I just had to make everything by myself. And if I could make everything by myself, then I would be an asset. And I’ve always been trying to learn shit. So, to me it was just like, alright I'll figure this out on my own.
But, I guess the bottom line is I do actually love just having the final say–not needing to censor myself or answer to anybody. I’m not trying to piss people off. I’m trying to make people laugh. I recognize that certain things are going to piss people off, but my aim is not to stir the pot.
You’ve always been pretty critical of snowboard media. What ultimately led you to depart from YoBeat?
My relationship with YoBeat… basically, Brooke and I creatively disagreed. At a certain point, I think there was a pretty large disagreement about the importance of the content I was making to the YoBeat brand. My thought was that it was vital. Their thought was that it wasn't. They wanted to cut my budget, which they had already done once. When they said they wanted to cut my budget a second time, I said, "I’m not doing this anymore." It came down to money.
By the time you left, you had already done Hateline and were focusing on The NewShow—the predecessors to Last Resort.
Yeah, so Brooke told me that I had to change the name of Hateline. This was at episode 47. So, I changed it to The NewShow, got a new suit, made some episodes, and while that was happening I was trying to sell the show to other magazines.
At first, I talked to Bridges. But, I knew that it basically wasn’t going to happen. So I then went to Snowboard Mag–while they still existed, or, whatever they are now, I don’t know, a shell of a publication or whatever. But, basically what I was asking was for a magazine that was already tight on money to make a position for me. I was asking for a fair amount of money to make it. But, I was also like, this shit is fucking good, the media outlets need something like this. I was confused about why no one bought it.
So, no one buys it, you leave YoBeat, and ultimately, that seems to coincide with their demise, so to speak.
That’s how I look at it. Here’s the thing, when Brooke and I had the phone conversation–when she called to tell me that they were cutting my budget, and I said that I wasn’t working there anymore, I hung up the phone and didn’t talk to them for like two years. So I don’t actually know what happened to them. It’s not my intention to really ever dig into it.
They had a comeback, but it didn’t really seem to work. They started backing skiers for a second, which I thought was such an interesting move for them to make. But here’s the thing: Brooke created that shit, and it actually was a thing, and I will forever respect that Brooke made that shit real. It’s admirable, but my relationship with them was just so poor for the last two years that once I decided to finally leave, it was just blinders, you know?
Totally. Well, regardless of what happened to YoBeat, once you took that departure, you arguably became more connected and in tune with things going on in the snowboarding world. How did that happen?
A lot of the relationships that I forged with people while I was still working with YoBeat were definitely important. I’ve just been doing it now for long enough that to some extent; I’ve made it be a thing. No one else has really stepped to it that hard. I keep waiting for someone to present a show that’s like mine, but better. It hasn’t happened yet. I also think a lot of it comes down to the media outlets feeling super branded. So, in some ways, it feels like I have been growing a platform through my writing and making videos and caring about snowboarding without feeling paid for.
Also, I just like making people laugh. I’ve gotten into doing a lot of stand up comedy lately. But really, I think it’s from having an opinion and basically talking about what’s happening in snowboarding in real time. In skating, you have The Nine Club and SKATELINE and all these things that people really fuck with. It’s just skateboard commentary. That isn’t what the media outlets are doing anymore. They’re not doing snowboard commentary. People like listening to someone just shoot the shit about snowboarding in a funny way.
How did you get back into working in snowboarding?
I can’t really sing the praises of Halldór, Lobster, and Ryan "Diggles" Scardigli enough. They have really been the catalyst and the arm to help me through that time after YoBeat. I went on a movie tour in Europe with the Helgasons, Kevin and Tor, and this gang of other people for 10 days when they released the BYNDXMDLS movie and MasterBayTable by Sexual Snowboarding.
I got to know Halldór and Eiki super well, and the crazy thing that I tripped out on was that Eiki is so different than Halldor. So, Eiki had a budget to make Island Born, and they wanted me to be involved. They didn’t want to make a super serious Eiki Helgason movie, and I was honored and relieved because I hadn't been doing anything in snowboarding.
Sounds like Island Born gave you the itch to get back on camera, can you talk about the birth of Last Resort?
I had seen a couple of shoddy attempts at a show by Angry Snowboarder. And then I saw this Jack Mitrani SIA promotional video that was kind of news showy, and it triggered me. It was like, damn, I should just be doing this. But I was so nervous that people weren’t going to take it seriously. I was worried that I had become irrelevant. I talked to Halldor and he was like, "You’ve got to keep making the show. You need to."
Halldór had hit me up about being an ambassador for Atrip. So I asked him if we could get Atrip involved in the show. I wasn’t even asking for money, I was just trying to make it seem legit with a logo. He was like, "Dude, let’s fucking go, let’s do this." Long story short, I talked to Halldór again after making the first five episodes, and he was like, "Alright, we’re not going to do it through Atrip anymore, but I definitely want to get Lobster involved." So we are now in an agreement and what is sick about that is that there are no plugs on the show for Lobster. They are fully supporting it 100 percent for–and this sounds ridiculous to say–the culture.
Does having a brand sponsor at all influence you when choosing who to roast?
I don’t avoid roasting Lobster. I’m not critical of Lobster either, but there are a lot of things I’m not critical about. When I talked to Halldór about setting this all up, he was just like, "You have to roast us too; if we need to be roasted, you have to roast us. Snowboarding needs it. We need it." It’s so sick because he’s just down with it.
How do you come up with different topics and things to roast on the show?
I think that my views on snowboarding are growing with my worldview. Snowboarding is such a huge part of my life that a lot of the shit that I’m thinking about in normal life will inevitably bleed into thoughts about snowboarding. I try not to isolate snowboarding from the rest of the world. I’m not trying to get super political either, but I’m also not trying to be like, "This is just a sport."
So there's that, and then style criticism. It gets built up by my perception of snowboarding over time and by my conversations with different friends. Shoptalk shit. "That was wack and that was sick" stuff. Those same conversations that all of us dedicated snowboarders have.
It’s a lot easier to make jokes about videos that came out this month than to dissect snowboarding all the time. Sometimes I wish I could more adequately dissect it. But it’s a lot of work to make a product out of that I’m willing to show people. Doing stand-up has also helped shaped the way I deliver shit.
I write things down before I film. So I try to really be as successful as possible in creating a thorough and funny perspective before I even turn the camera on. Ideas pop into my head whenever because I’m always kind of thinking about making the show. It’s my favorite thing to do.
What’s the worst criticism you’ve gotten for the show?
I think the worst criticism that I get is that I’m not going hard enough–that I need to go deeper and be meaner. I definitely hold back because I’m self-conscious. I try not to get too worried about what people are saying about it though. I would have to be some kind of fucking asshole if I wasn't ready to take criticism myself, you know? So if anyone ever has some shit to say about it, I usually just take it as it is.
Honestly, the thing I did that pissed people off the most was made fun of that blogger, David Jones, which I did haphazardly. It wasn’t even a bit of a segment that I thought twice about. His blog is so insane. Apparently, he has a lot of fans.
Tell me more.
A lot of people were lighting up the comments like "This kid is fucking irrelevant, and he’s pissed off because he only has 3,000 YouTube followers." All this shit. I was like, "This is so sick." But I did also hear that he made a reaction video to watching my video where I roast him. I should probably check that out. But honestly, I don’t care. If you can’t recognize why a video of you walking your dog and getting the mail is annoying… I have nothing else to say.
How about from parents or people that aren’t already involved in snowboarding?
If there are snowboard parents who don’t like me, they don’t make it known. But there are a lot of snowboard parents that are down for the cause. There are times that I’ll be at a resort or I’ll be somewhere and a dad, like a shred dad and his son, will approach me and be like, "Hey, are you that guy from that show?"
What’s that like?
It’s fucking psycho. Someone asked me for a selfie with them in the Portland airport.
I think the craziest one that ever happened to me was in Whitefish, Montana. I was just standing on the street in Whitefish, Montana and this kid was like, "Are you Stan?" I was like, "Yeah."
So beyond your blossoming fandom, you've made a name for yourself by being critical of snowboarding. If you could change anything big or small, where would you start?
I think that the most important thing for snowboarding–and I don’t even know how I would implement this–is for people to be honest and upfront about their love for snowboarding. For people to talk about it in a more passionate way, one that is beyond just stoke–you know, like nitpick it and work together to decide for yourself what makes it cool, and what doesn’t make it cool. I think that everyone is too worried about pissing other people off, and I don't understand it.
Snowboarding exists in this weird realm where there are the people that do it and love it, and then there is everyone else’s view of it–the X Games people. Like oh, someone did a fuckin’ double backflip over a fuckin’ building. That's how the normal world interacts with snowboarding, whereas, in my opinion, the normal world has a better understanding of skateboarding. A kickflip clip on Instagram can still get a ton of views, but like a back three snowboard video is never going to get seven million views. You know what I mean? And here I am constantly comparing snowboarding to skating, but I think it comes from snowboarding’s lack of its own specific identity.
The comparison is as old as the sport–skating to surfing, snowboarding to all of the above.
Ain’t that the sad truth? Often, I feel like snowboarding is skateboarding's dwarfy little sister or something. Sometimes I ask myself if snowboarders are like people that scooter to skaters. We are idolized by the mainstream so much, and skaters are just like, "Yeah, whatever."
But, drawing back to what I said earlier; riding a snowboard is simply one of the most fun things you can do. If we were better at creating our own identity, it might be different. You just have to have faith in that notion, you know? You can’t let a skater that is anti-snowboarder define you and shelter you from wanting to be like, "Yeah I fucking snowboard." I identify as a snowboarder pretty quickly to anyone that I meet, and I think more people should do that too.