Saturday, February 22, 2014
In 27 years as a working pro, Mike Vallely’s impact on skateboarding has been nothing less than comprehensive. In pursuing his craft, Vallely has not only helped shape what people can do on their skateboards, but also the shape of the skateboards they do it on. Through his relentless touring, vocal advocacy, and plain old trucks-to-the-grindstone ethos, Vallely’s influence goes well beyond the tricks and video parts and deep into the mind state of skateboarding. As famous for speaking his mind, burning bridges and busting security guards as he is for busting bonelesses, Vallely has always seemed fearless, militant even, in his passion and pursuit of skateboarding.
But standing on the decks at the Skatepark of Tampa during the Tampa pro contest in 2012, He’s nervous.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
So what the hell does this have to do with skateboarding?
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Skateboarding now has its own quasi-holiday with Go Skate Day. Every year the occasion gets bigger and that’s pretty cool, on the other hand creating a special day for skaters called “Go Skate day” is kind of like a bunch of junkies getting together and declaring a “Go Shoot Up Day”. After all, go skateboarding day is any day you’ve got time to skate...that isn’t raining...or that you are not in too much pain from the last “go skateboarding day”. Still, the precedent of a skateboarding holiday is great because it can pave the way for some better, more specific holidays for skateboarders. Here’s a few fesitive ideas I came up with, some holidays that commemorate more specific aspects of skate culture that I think need to be celebrated and cherished:
Janksgiving: Janksgiving is a day for skaters give thanks for all the sketchy, chunky spots that helped them learn to skate before they were good enough to rip their local park or hot street spot. Skaters are encouraged to re-visit the two-step staircases, strip mall curbs, and school/church parking lots they cut their teeth in as a way to foster an appreciation for their skate heritage. It is also a day of thankfulness for DIY skate parks, so hug your local cementhead and give him a bag of quikrete, then get to work. The day of appreciation peaks with the Janksgiving Feast, where you and your extended skate family gather together with whatever scraps of wood and other semi-skateable materials you can find, and then use them to build a new janky skate spot. After shredding it, you have a pot luck dinner where everyone contributes their favorite recipes from old Skarfing Material columns.
Friday, November 8, 2013
The mainstream of modern street skateboarding, if you define it by what the media is selling, has a pretty high barrier to entry. There’s something perverse in the fact that what we now call “street skating” has developed (devolved?) to a level where it seems as if you can’t drop your board down just anywhere and start doing it. Skateboarding has matured to the point where there’s no longer an expiration date on a persons’ skate lifespan, but it often seems as if the queue up to the street skating section of the subculture is blocked by a sign that says: “You must be this young or this skilled to enter.” Videos transmit the latest, most skull-perforating tricks and create an orthodoxy of what high-impact, terrain qualifies as a legit skate spot, and what tricks are “real”. If the ledge ain’t knee high it doesn’t count, and anything less intense than popping a double set or hitting a handrail at mach 12 is mere “cruising”. “Cruising” I hate that fucking term. Its called street skating, folks, even if all you’re doing is rolling down the block and floating up curbs. In some ways street skating is a victim of its own success: in becoming the pre-eminent cutting edge venue for skateboarding, modern street skating can seem narrow, highly specialized and, competitive. In short, street skating is in constant danger of veering away from all the things that made it so crucial to start with.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Outsiders can scoff. It’s easy to think that all I was doing was falling into a fad, but if skateboarding was a fad it was the hardest fad in the history pop culture to actually participate in. Fads are supposed to be easy. Sometimes all you have to do to be in the thick of one is buy some doohickey or scrap of clothing, but with skateboarding, it was a major commitment of time and discipline just to buy your way in. By ’87 Skateboarding was rapidly gaining popularity, sure, but the return wasn’t so much a subcultural rags-to-riches story as it was a rags-to-new-outfit-from-the-goodwill story. Even in throes of Bones Brigade mania, in the midwest becoming a skater was not something that happened unless you really wanted it to. It took a daunting amount of work just to be a poseur. That’s why, even for the trendies who only skitched their way on the thrash bandwagon for a few months, the decision to dabble in skating was a lot more involved than going to the five and dime to buy a hula hoop or a pogo stick, and the effects of that decision had broader impacts. Skaters wax poetic about their first real board. It’s seen as a rite of passage. To an outsider, that’s a corny sentiment at best and a sad overidentification with crass consumerism at worst, but in a time when skateboard shops, sometimes even skateboard magazines, only existed in the major metropolitan areas in the midwest, the simple act of getting your hands on a board was more than an act of consumption, it was a true initiation: a baptism of plywood, urethane and cast aluminum. Here’s your Hosoi hammerhead, welcome to the cult.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
There are a lot more women skating today than there were when I took up a board way back in the pleostecene era of the late 80’s. Of course, by that metric “a lot more” could actually mean “any”, but I digress. The more random distribution of y chromosomes at the skate park nowadays is a net positive all around. When I’m Jumping through the social media hoops and brwosing skate related pages and blogs, shots of women absolutely killing it are more common than ever. I find that pretty inspiring...until I scroll down to the photo captions or, even worse, the comment sections. Cliched double entendres using the word “grind”, and well-meaning but knuckleheaded captions about how “sexy” or “hot” a woman who can skate is, are mingled with fawning but nevertheless condescending marriage proposals and lamentations regarding the lack of skateboarding skills of peoples’ various girlfriends. Its all very predictable and very pathetic. I know people say riding a skateboard means never having to grow up, but this isn’t really what they mean.