dude, check it out. skateboarding.
by Michele Christopher
National what day? Skateboarding day? Fuck, I have a blown knee from skating too much. I don't even think I have a deck anymore. But we were informed of this day by a reader. I'm gonna tell you, skateboarding changed my life. It had an impact on both our lives. So today we will celebrate! Happy Go Skateboarding Day! Grab the old deck and hit the streets. Flip off cops and push by old people. A kid's wearing pads? You call him a pussy and just remember how this all started for you. Let's ride.
6am and I just popped Lords of Dogtown into the DVD player. Just celebrating a holiday I can get behind: Go Skateboarding Day!
I love skateboarding. Oh, do I skateboard? Hah, no. I’m strictly an observer here. Yea, I tried back in the day to join the crowd but I’m what they used to call back in those days a spazz. Do you they still use that word? That’s me. I’d get one foot on the deck and it wouldn’t be two seconds later before my ass was on the ground. So I watched.
We’re talking early/mid 70's here. I was barely a teenager when skateboarding fever hit our little suburb. It was like all of a sudden everyone had a board or was talking about getting a board. And you know kids. They see a trend, they follow. Skateboarding? Sure, we can do that. Everyone put down their baseball bats and hockey sticks and went to PlayWorld to pick up skateboards.
It wasn’t like today where you take your kid to some big store and he picks out a deck and trucks and bearings and wheels and all this hardware and it ends up costing about $300 and he puts it together and he skates for about two days and then realizes the only thing he really wants to do in his spare time is play his guitar so you have $300 worth of skateboard sitting in the garage collecting dust and, wait, I’m getting into another story here........no, you just walked into PlayWorld and there were a bunch of skateboards hanging up in an aisle. You picked out one you thought looked cool and then...and then........and then you dared everyone in your group to shoplift a board.
Steal a skateboard? How can you do that? It’s not like sticking a yo-yo in your pocket. This is not something that is easily concealed. But we were challenged. By Steven, an older, cooler kid, no less. Steal a skateboard. This was in the days before high-tech security systems were in place. State-of-the-art security meant there was a guy at the door with an official looking badge and a false sense of authority whose job it was to eye young people suspiciously as they entered the store, as if to say “I know what you whippersnappers are up to you and I’m going to keep an eye on you.” Except he was keeping a lecherous eye on the teenage girls in tube tops and short shorts.
So all the guys were trying to figure out how to stuff a skateboard down their jeans and not draw attention to themselves, or how to get into the employee’s only section and walk out the loading dock doors without being noticed. I had a better idea. There was only one other girl in the crowd besides me. Angel, girlfriend of Steven the Cool. Angel was wearing a tube top (that she kept having to pull up) and short shorts (that she kept having to pull out of her ass). She was tall, tan, beautiful and a perfect distraction for the pedophile security guy. Hey, I was trying to accomplish a mission here. Call it exploitation if you want. I was 13 or so. I wasn’t thinking child molestation. I was thinking “free skateboard!”
So I grabbed Angel and told her I wanted to go outside and smoke while the boys did their thing and she should come with me. I grabbed the first board I could reach and put it under my arm, carrying it casually, as if I owned the thing and was about to drop it down and ride through the store. Act non chalant. Act cool. This is your board. Your board. We got to the door and I pushed Angela ahead of me. Security Guy was standing in his usual spot and looked at us with narrowed eyes as we walked toward him. And then - I’m not really proud of this - I reached my hand out and slightly tugged on the back of Angel’s tube top so it inched down just a little bit - not enough to reveal anything (and there really wasn’t much there) but enough to make Angel adjust the top just as she was walking in front of Security Guy. His eyes moved from my skateboard to Angel’s top and his stare hovered there long enough for me to slide past Angel and walk out the door, board still tucked under my arm. I walked real fast through the parking lot, hopped over the divider that took me to the movie theater lot and breathed a sigh of relief as I dropped the board on the ground, Angel trailing behind me, completely oblivious to her part in my shoplifting scheme. I felt about fifteen seconds worth of guilt before Steve and the rest of the guys showed up and marveled at my accomplishment. I was feeling all proud and cool and accepted (hey, I was a stupid kid) as I handed the board over to Steve and told him to try it out. He dropped it, jumped on it and had just got some momentum when a car came zooming through the parking lot, headed, it appeared, right for Steve. He jumped off the board and, well, an object in motion stays in motion, so they say, and the board kept going. The crunching sound made as board met station wagon tire sounded, I thought, a little bit like God cackling at me.
I recently purchased
With the skateboard pictures from the 70's, Friedman might not have even realized then what he was capturing. The shots of shirtless skaters in shorts and knee socks, no helmets, no logos, hair flying, truly brings out the essence of what skateboarding was in those days. It wasn’t about sponsors and video games. It wasn’t sleek and slick like it is today. It was raw. It was empty pools and bare shirts and defiance. It was dirty. It was punk rock.
Punk rock and skateboarding had the common threads of aggression and subversiveness and defiance. Friedman had an eye for these things and managed to capture them on film time and again. That sounds a lot easier than it is. It's more than just getting the shot of good vert action, it's capturing the feel behind the climb.
It wasn't just a moment he captured, not even just a culture or a movement. He captured the spirit that embodied both skateboarding and punk rock, the entire essence of what those two things were. For anyone who thinks skateboarding was just about the ride or punk rock was just about the tunes, they need only look at Friedman's photos of each to see what was beneath.
So, skateboarding day. Go skate, kids. Go. I'll watch. I was almost tempted to grab my son's board out of the garage and give it a try just in the spirit of the day but, much like getting into a pit at a show, I'm too old for this shit anymore.- M
*photos 1 and 3 by Glen E. Friedman*
A National Go Skateboarding Day? Did the President approve this?
No, Im just kidding. Skateboard has a long line of memories from my past. Good and bad. Skateboarding was the thing that brought the "bad" element together. If someone skated you knew that they had some kinda of drug on them, in their system, or knew where to get it. This was early 80's. Skateboarding was not as wholesome as it is now. Not at all. You wanna know why you can't skate in some cities without breaking some kind of weird law? Ask us. We picked this sport up and we broke it down. It was our scene back then and we ruined it. The only one who kept it going after we broke our knees, dislocated our shoulders or became junkies was Tony Hawk. God, I hated that little kid. But, I give him one thing. He kept it alive. Believe it or not. The "Pussy With The Pads" actually did something good. Skateboards. God, I loved them.
But, what story to tell? I can tell you I broke teeth on pavement, built ramps, and skated til I busted out my leg and never really walked right again cause of all these god damn pins in my knee. But, that wouldn't really serve a purpose.
This is about something bigger. This is your day Skaters. So in honor of you for keeping this thing going, I will tell of a little thing that we used to have called halfpipes. This was the thing when I was growing up. The thing. If you had one of these in your backyard when I was a kid, you were a star. Kids loved you. You got free pizza, free beer, free music and free friends. Your house was now the cool place to be. This is where we will be today, tomorrow, the next day and the day after that. Sure we were gonna give you shit if you couldn't get to the top or if your ramp wasn't vert and we ended up hitting a fucking wall. But you gotta expect that. "See those things? Those over there. In your dad's garage? They are called "levels." You use those to make sure the ramp goes up straight, cause even though I am kinda semi ok at skating, if I'm shooting off towards a wall because the top of your ramp looks like some bad acid trip, I'm gonna be pissed after I hit the ground. Sure, the rush of "Fuck Yeah! I'm in the air!" Is fun, but kinda loses it's cool when right after you get the "oh fuck! Here comes the grass!" feel. So make that damn thing straight!
I might be exaggerating. Most of the time in the air is "Shit!" time, but meh, hitting the grass still sucks .
But, I digress, again.
Ramps. Keep in mind that when I was around, all the skateparks from the 70's had closed and the only thing left was street. No one really did street like they do now. Street was just to get you around. We mocked freestylers who prolly had more talent then any of us, but what can you do. Those guys and their sissy boards always looked so, so wimpy. Who the the hell would want to be like Rodney Mullen? For christ sake his first name was Rodney. Rodney. Rodney. Jesus that was lame. This was the time of building the biggest ramps you could. Going as far as you could. The pinnacle of skateboarding so far. People had started to say "Hey, they are hoodlums, but at least they are exercising." We were making it big time, baby.
They were built in the remote locations. Away from people and their prying eyes. Just off the road. Where if you didn't know where it was at, you wouldn't know we were here. And the biggest I had ever seen was only five or so hours away. And Thrasher was having an event that day. Oh, yeah. You know me by now. We were going.
The Mile High Massacre!
Holy shit! This ramp is huge! Where the hell are we at? Jesus fucking christ that thing is huge! Mile High Ramp. Located a few minutes from Tahoe City. I can't tell you were it was. All I can say is make a left at the 7-11 and just keep driving and you will see it.
Mile High Ramp.
This thing was the biggest ramp I had ever seen. Tons of people packed all around it. This wasn't what they do nowadays.The way they put on big events and you have to pay seven bucks to see skaters play with themselves. This was before all that Vision Skate Wear crap and before Gator got all weirded out and killed some girl with a tire iron cause God told him too. This was clandestine, illegal, and a shitload of fun. Pushing through the crowd I started to see familiar faces. Mountain, Hosoi, Cabellero, Lucero, and yes, yes, Tony Hawk. The deck of the ramp was painted with chalkmarks of bodies. Like police outlines. All over it. A band was playing and the whole crowd was drunk. Yes, this was illegal. But this was fun. This was Mile High. A ramp built in an area of Tahoe where the streets were paved, but no one decided to move there. No houses were built. Might as well build a huge ramp here. Why not?.
We spent the entire day hanging out with our friends and drinking beer wondering if this thing would end. We wanted to try this thing out. We need to try this thing out. Go home people. Declare a winner and end this. I want to try this thing out!
Decks were tossed in the air, something they don't do now. Yeah, get off my lawn and shit. The crowd dispersed. And it was over. We sat around waiting til we could actually get up there. Finally. A break in the crowd. Pushing my way up there just trying to get a space. Throwing my deck down to drop in. Looking at all the trees and smelling the fresh air. The beauty of Tahoe really hit me. This was a place of wonder. I wondered about things like life on other planets, why do birds sing and why is this forest so beautiful that it takes my breath away.
Then I looked down.
That's a big drop.
That was Mile High.
God bless her.
So have fun today. Happy National Go Skate Day!
Grab a stick, grab a beer and go fuck someones car up!
This is your day!- T
I just want to thank Scott of Strange Reaction for coming through with the Faction song. He always comes up with the hard to get stuff for us. Thanks, Scott.