Monday, January 14, 2013

Deloreans, Driveway Destruction And Vicious Acts Of Valterrorism

1985 was the year Back To The Future came out, the year I got my first wide-bodied department store knock-off board. It was a big year for skateboarding in general. In the civilized world, the sport was beginning to rebound from its near-death at the end of the 1970‘s. Corporations were beginning to, once again, wave cash around to bankroll demos and contests. Skateboarding was popping up sporadically in TV commercials, and NSA contest attendance broke records. Robert Zemeckis’ classic film kicked that momentum into overdrive. A lot of kids got their first stick after seeing Back To The Future, and I’m not just referring to the farm belt yokels either. By December of 1985, a skateboard was the christmas gift of choice for a lot of kids everywhere. Marty Mcfly doesn’t deserve all the credit for making that happen, but he certainly played a part.

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 in 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

Early Skateboarding Part 2: Life's a Beach Party, And You're Not Invited

There’s great irony in the fact that my friends and I were so clueless about skateboarding in those early days, because, by the mid-80's, 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, and 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.