Friday, May 3, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Learning about skating via the pre-digested, commodified versions of it we saw in pop culture was not ideal, but skateboarding’s flirtations with the mainstream in ’86-’87 turned out to be vital for me and my valterrorizing friends anyway. By ’86 I had been cruising my department store Variflex for two years and me and the pre-pubescent driveway gangs haunting the subdivisions had pretty much reached the limits of what we thought carving, kickturns and coffins could do for us. We knew there was another level of skating somewhere, but we had no idea what it looked like or how to take the first step to get to it. We didn’t even have directions to the stairwell. We were desperate for any bit of information we could digest.
Monday, February 25, 2013
For me 1986 and 1987 were the years of a sort subliminal indoctrination into skateboarding. By the end of ’87 I had reached the turning point where I realized skateboarding was not going to be just a diversion for me, but a passion. These were the years when my friends and I slowly and painfully began to realize that those Nashes and Valterras we were riding weren’t going to be enough. These were the years before Thrasher showed up in the bookstores but Thrashin' and Police Academy 4 were on movie screens. 720 appeared in the mall arcade promising answers to the tao of skating that, alas, remained elusive no matter how many quarters I pumped into it. At home, my friend Monty and I were ignoring the hackey sack and volleyball stages of California Games on the commodore 64 so we could go straight to shredding the 8-bit half pipe in the skateboarding stage. Skate Or Die came later, where we would find ourselves taking pixelized advice on equipment and skate spots from a double-chinned, purple mohawked skateshop owner named Rodney Recloose in the hopes of taking down aggro eddie. Of course when the screen went blank, no matter how well we scored head to head against Bionic Lester, we had to go back out to our driveways with our Valterras and Nashes and be Poseur Pete. In the living rooms of our suburban ranch houses there were sporadic commercials with tiny snippets of skating flash cut in between pitches for cola or hair gel. Each split second of shredding between money shots of Swatch watches or perspiring cans of Mountain Dew would have me putting my face right up to the screen, searching for information. In the mid 80’s, if skateboarding was the bright center of the universe, I was on the planet farthest from, but like a radio telescope operator with an open line to alien world, I was poring through the pop culture static and aggregating a transmission of skateboarding whose signal to noise ratio was slowly getting better.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
By fall of ’87 the only thing in worse shape than my cut-rate variflex board was my cut-rate team Murray BMX bike. This was a problem because, by 1987, the brief flare -up of budget board skating that got turbocharged by Back To The Future in ’85 was beginning to fade away in favor of a return to BMX. The little bubble of interest in skateboards seemed destined to be nothing more than a breather that barely interrupted the BMX mania that had been ongoing in the rural midwest since the beginning of the decade.
I had never had a good BMX bike and skateboarding had temporarily created a level of equality between me and my peers. All our boards were more or less equal in their second rate status. (not that we really knew that). But now BMX was re-asserting it dominance. On top of that there was a new type of BMX bike every kid had to have. It was called a freestyle bike, and with their rotors, pegs and neon colors, freestyle bikes were even further removed from my rusting, wobbly-rimmed department store Team Murray. To add insult to injury, my main partner in valterrorism, Monty, dropped his valterra for a hot pink GT freestyle bike in ’87. This was a harsh blow. I was bummed not just because I was unsure who I would have to skate with while Monty was over-flipping endos on his bike, but also because his subdivision had the best driveways. The vicarious arms race that would later have every parent in his hood scrabbling to buy their little darlings the hottest car was supplying all those cut-rate carvers I had once skated with with tricked out, eye-watering fluorescent Dynos, Haros and, GTs.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Of course, living in the midwest back then was a sort of time warp in and of itself. It wasn’t that things always came to us late (although they mostly did), if a fad reached critical mass fast enough to be co-opted by Hollywood, it could break the time barrier and reach into the suburban midwestern zeitgeist an almost timely fashion. But even when that happened, what we got was the toned-down, tone-deaf commodified and co-opted version of whatever it was. This was the case with Punk Rock, It was the case with breakdancing and, it was the case with skateboarding.
Friday, January 4, 2013
There’s a great irony in the fact that my friends and I were so clueless about skateboarding in those early days. By 1984, Mainstream culture had been selling us distorted, monetized visions of the California surf lifestyle for years. Even in elementary school you had to have your OP T-shirt and tacky Hawaiian print jamz to be socially acceptable. By adolescence we all aspired to be a part of the non-stop buzz and bikini party that was the California life as portrayed by corny sitcoms and a thousand Jeff Spiccoli analogs glimpsed in clandestine viewings of teen-nudie movies on late-night HBO. We all had extensive knowledge of how surfers were supposed to talk, how they were supposed to dress, and (implicitly) what they smoked. We knew surfers were the coolest dudes on the planet, never mind that we knew exactly jack and shit about surfing.
Posted by Dadmiral Ackbar at 6:51 PM
Thursday, December 27, 2012
When I picked up my first skateboard in 1984 I was seeing it with almost no preconceived notions. In those dark days between the high-water mark of the late 70‘s and the post bones-brigade mid-80‘s A lot of kids who stumbled into skateboarding via a cheapie banana board bought on a whim saw their skateboards the same way. Even now, reducing skateboarding to its simplest state is an interesting exercise. Put yourself in that headspace where preconceived notions do not exist and you can break skating down into its elemental forms.
In the most basic sense a skateboard is a vehicle, but its a pretty terrible one. In speed and versatility it can’t compare with a bicycle, and every kid has a bike. You also need good pavement to ride a skateboard, and a stray pebble can still take you out. Even under ideal conditions pushing around on a skateboard punishes your knees and requires levels of concentration way beyond what a bicycle requires.
Posted by Dadmiral Ackbar at 6:08 AM