Friday, January 24, 2014

The Dirtiest Words In Skateboarding, Part 1: Progression

When I was in my early twenties, back in a time when skaters still had to contend with the question of “how old do you have to be before you have to quit skating?” my best friend answered the question by asserting that he would “never quit” as long as he was “...having fun and progressing...”

I was always cool with half of that answer, but why quit when you are having fun, even if you are not progressing? His succinct answer all those years ago gets to the root of an identity crisis that plagues skateboarding even more today, and it’s all wrapped up in that one word: progression.

My lack of talent and general sensibilities make me a pretty egalitarian guy when it comes to riding, I’m not sure I’m comfortable, even in this age of cruiser trendiness and longboard ubiquity, with making distinctions between “true” skaters, and whatever else the rest may be. Ultimately, we’re all skaters, but being equal doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Writing a journal article on quantum physics and writing a sonnet in Iambic pentameter are both writing, but they are not the same thing. This is why, in other human endeavors, we create new language to distinguish between even the most subtly different of things. The skateboarding community has yet to develop a really good language for its increasingly diversifying facets. Right now, with the space between skating’s different genres becoming so broad, skaters, at least those with their hearts and minds in the right place, are struggling with how to talk about what they do and how to differentiate their own identities as skateboarders from that of others without stepping on the increasingly sensitive hamburger toes of their peers.