Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Keep Your Heroes. We Don't Want Them.

Slash Dog with Real Dogs. Alva at Nude Bowl on that fateful night, by Andrew Hutchison

The culture of skateboarding is largely built on hero worship. In this way, skating is not unlike conventional spectator sports. Pro endorsements are the prime mover of skate products, and the deeds of pro skaters dominate the media we consume. Still, even in an era where pros can earn seven figure incomes, the relationship skaters have with their pro "heroes" is  fundamentally different from the relationship adoring sports fans have with theirs. In fact, it makes me wonder whether the term "hero" has any place in skateboarding at all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Skateboarding is Not A Sport

You can take practically any physical endeavor and turn it into a “sport”. Just flip through the cable channels late at night and you’ll see. There is competitive lumberjacking, competitive aerobics, competitive martial arts. There's even professional eating. Turning something into a sport is simple all you have to do is impose limitations on it.  Mark Twain once  joked that the sport of golf was  “a good walk spoilt.”  It was just a smart ass remark, but the essence of sports lies in that little quip. Add in rules about teams, official measurements and require someone to carry a ball, and something as simple as walking from one end of a field to another becomes football.

Skaters have been antagonistic about branding skateboarding as a sport for decades. A lot of this comes from skating's DIY roots and the punk rock ethos it picked up in the 1980’s, but the need to refute and reject all attempts to make skateboarding a sport go beyond simple rebellious desires, it cuts right to the nature of skating itself. Limitations and skateboarding are two entities that always have trouble getting along. Entities that should have trouble getting along.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Popsicle Experiment

For the last two years I have been one of the thousands of skaters who has embraced alternate skate deck shapes. I've ridden shovel heads, punk points, curvaceous, wide bodied hybrids like the Street Plant Street axe, and I’ve had custom shapes made to my own specs, The whole time I've been pretty vocal about how these shapes can be more than just nostalgic, stylistic affectations.

About 3 months ago, for the first time in 2 years,  I set up my first popsicle deck. It was my attempt to come full circle with all my experimentations, and see how my perceived preferences stood up against the baseline of modern skateboarding.

Even in light of all of my shape advocacy, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t notice immediate advantages with the popsicle. There are good reasons to ride a standard shape, just as there are good reasons to ride a well-designed alternate shape. Teasing out what advantages come from the actual popsicle shape and which come from other factors like a shift in wheelbase size and width is a more subtle matter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Submit To The Grind: Examining Skateboarding's Original Sin

There are things in life so ingrained that we never notice how weird they are unless we take a big step back. Skate culture is full of these sorts of things. In fact, you could say it is built upon them. After all, we're a culture obsessed with finding ways to further complicate riding what is already the world's most dysfunctional vehicle.

Take grinding, and by grinding I mean all the related acts of board sliding , tail sliding, nose sliding, whatever, as well. Grinding, be it trucks or decks, is as essential to modern skateboarding as urethane wheels and precision bearings. But, step out of your skater consciousness and really ponder the grind for a moments and you will quickly realize our obsession with the grind is really fucking weird.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Talking Gear Doesn't Make You A Poseur, And Not Giving A Crap Doesn't Make You A Jock

If you are familiar with the work I've done with The Ride Channel or even hung around the Parking Block Diaries Facebook page, you probably know I put a fair amount of thought into the gear I ride. In modern skateboarding, thinking critically about what you are riding is usually a point of controversy, not for the opinions you might form, but for the fact that you have an opinion at all.

I see it all the time on my pages or in the comment sections of my articles: Someone will ask some advice about how a deck rides or ask for suggestions on what kind of wheels to get, and, soon afterwards, the snarky and even hostile comments come rolling in. For many, even asking about gear is "over-thinking" and considering the specs of different products"Doesn't matter".  Before long they always end up twisting the good ole' Zorlac "Shut up and skate" slogan into their ultimate justification.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stop acting Like The Taliban. Start Acting Like The Hell's Angels

Skaters like to wax poetic about the virtues of core skateboarding, the values fostered by the underground...they go on about how important all of that is, how vital it is, yet, when anything comes along that might (gasp) move skateboarding outside the boundaries of their own personal, subjective and usually overly idealized ideology of "core" skateboarding, they start ranting about how skateboarding is in peril of being "ruined".

I have to wonder: Just what is this fragile thing they call skateboarding that needs so much protection?  It's not something I recognize. The skateboarding that I have cherished for three decades is not some precious, fragile little flower, it's a fucking weed that won't die no matter how hard it gets pulled, stepped on, or doused with poison. It's a weed that can't be killed because its roots are too strong.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SLAPCHAT: With Danny Sargent

If there was a Mount Rushmore of curbs, Danny Sargent’s face would be on it, three stories high, right between John Lucero and Tom Knox. At the apex of his career it seemed as if there was no angle of concrete in the San Francisco Bay area safe from the wrath of Sarge’s trucks. But now, after moving his family to Minneapolis, Danny Sargent is getting a sample of the pain every midwestern skater felt back in the day trying to emulate his video edits on sketchy middle america crete.

“Out here the curbs are all weathered,” Sargent comments. “It’s not like out west, that’s for damn sure.”

But even if he’s mostly hitting bowls and parks nowadays, Danny Sargent is still a slappy god. “For me it was always a way of life,” Sargent says. “You go out and you slappy around.. it’s just what we did”.

A beacon of inspiration for curb fiends past and present, I was honored to collect Danny Sargent’s accumulated wisdom on the intricacies of the slappy for this edition of Slapchat.