Archive for the ‘Sk8boarding’ Category

Dawggone!

May 29, 2010

Gone Skatin

May 21, 2010

Kulturbot will return

April 22, 2010

Extra! Extraneous!

April 19, 2010

A late night trip to the magazine rack!


Finishing a 25 page paper that you’ve been intently focused on for several days is a bit like surfacing from a diving bell that’s been sitting at the bottom of a lake: there’s a whole world up there that’s been going along on its merry way, and which an entire news industry will do its best to prevent you from noticing. For instance, I was shocked to discover that the Vatican has decided to forgive the Beatles for their wayward lifestyles and is finally admitting that Strawberry Fields is a catchy tune, regardless of whether the Sgt. Pepper’s album has sold more copies than the Bible or not. But I can’t imagine the Pope will ever forgive John Lennon for the humanistic messages of his solo career–doesn’t Nostradamus have some kind of prediction about that?

I don't get it.

Then there’s Time’s revisiting of the glories of World War Two, which must be some kind of strategy to booster support for the War on Terror, so we can get that over with and move on to the next excuse to kill people. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, Maclean’s had to resurrect an equal and inverse spectre, perhaps to deflect attention from the totalitarian tendencies of the current Canadian government. I should have stayed in the "homemaking" section.

And the National Post had a cover story about safari adventure vacations that I have no idea what to do with. As far as I can tell “The Real” is speeding by my neighbourhood 24 hours a day in form of five lanes of traffic contributing to local smog levels. Ok, maybe popping my head out from under the cover of my books wasn’t such a good idea after all!

But then Rebel Ink came to the rescue. Not only did it feature a picture of my future wife, there was a feature on skateboarding and punk legend Daune Peters. Peters has an ambition to cover his entire body with tattoos before he dies. He also has only six of his original teeth. I don’t know why I find this comforting after browsing through the other newsstand offerings, but I do. I guess tattoos are the opposite of newspapers: they don’t get replaced every day and they don’t give you the illusion of being “in touch” with the greater world. But you can, sometimes, read them on the bus. Which reminds me of a joke: what’s black and blue, red and blurry, and over forty?

Thicker than Water

March 18, 2010

When I was jobless and living in Victoria, B.C., I had very little to do each day save for skateboard and make dinner for my girlfriend, who was working at a call centre. It was extremely hard for “out of towners” to find work, and we were just scraping by. One night, we splurged and went out to see the documentary The Corporation, which was playing at a local theatre. After the film, the director was actually there to answer questions, and after he was done talking, the radio station that sponsored the event had some prizes to give away. As luck would have it, my ticket was one of the ones called, and I went to the front of the theatre to choose my prize. There were an assortment of mostly CDs which must have been sent to the radio station as promotional items, and which they were giving away as prizes. In the semi-darkness of the theatre, I picked one that had an interesting looking cover. It turned out to be the Thicker than Water soundtrack to a movie about surfing made by musician and surfer Jack Johnson. My then girlfriend, who has excellent taste in music, was very happy with my random choice, as she had been looking to own that album for some time. It was just a little thing, but because we were so broke, it seemed like a major windfall.

So whenever I hear songs from this album (there’s one or two that make it on the radio, or the Starbucks’ feed from time to time) I associate the music with a sense of the Pacific Ocean, skateboarding, unemployment and the feeling of being very far from wherever it is that one is meant to be. The light, ethereal songs collected on the album carry for me a kind of nostalgic feeling for a time when being utterly lost held a certain liberating appeal.

The reason I’m thinking about all this, is that for the past couple months, I’ve been contemplating which of two projects to pursue for my PhD thesis. I was leaning, recently, towards a revised project that looks at the undead and film, whereas my original proposal that studies the political and community aspects of skateboard culture was seeming less interesting. But then today in a class where we were looking at Ranciere’s rather narrow redefinition of the political, we were asked to come up with some local examples of political action that would fit Ranciere’s template. My suggestion of skateboarding came under some heavy criticism from a fellow student who couldn’t see how the struggle of a skateboard community to gain control over a historic skateboard spot could be considered as in the same league as, say the struggles of the Zapatista movement in Mexico. And there is a difference in scale between the struggles of skateboarding youth to frame a recognized identity and sense of agency, and the fight of a displaced indigenous population, but I also saw in the student’s inability to recognize the skateboard community’s plight as a political one a symptom of just the kind of “lack of visibility” of the “people that have no part” that Ranciere is talking about.

This exchange left me with the conviction that the political dimensions of the struggle of disenfranchised youth to have both their historical narrative and sense of agency recognized within the larger social realm (what Ranciere calls the process of “subjectification”) is a narrative that needs to be written, and so I am now leaning towards my original proposal, with the hopes that the undead will continue to haunt popular culture long enough that I can come back to them at a not-so-distant date.

This change of direction was affirmed on my way home from dinner at a friend’s house tonight (although I should probably sleep on it before making any firm resolutions). I had my new skateboard with me and caught a late bus “down the mountain” as they say around here. The bus was empty save for a few people, including a couple of St. Patrick’s day revelers, scantily clad and clutching text-messaging devices. I made my way to the back corner seat (always my favourite spot). Sitting in the opposite corner was a lanky, older man in jeans and a grey shirt. He had long, oily brown hair and thin features, and was listening to music on some kind of portable MP3 player with a tiny speaker that was clipped to his shirt. It was hard to hear anything but the tinny beat over the dull roar of the bus engine, but when the bus stopped I was surprised to make out the familiar moog effects from Dark Water & Stars…one of the memorable tracks from the Thicker than Water soundtrack. (Could this have been one of Hamilton’s fabled surfers who ride the waves on the breakwater beneath the Burlington Skyway?) When this atmospheric song ended, and My Guru started (the next song on the album), I was having a hard time believing the uncanny manner in which this music, and the sense of unearthly displacement affixed to it in my mind, had tracked me down in the back seat of a Hamilton bus tilting its way down the escarpment, with the lights of the city spilled out below like so many flickering constellations.

Ride the Ides

March 15, 2010

Yes, I went skateboarding today, and now my back is a little sore. But wrist guards and my new *phat* Mark Gonzalez special deck kept me from doing too much damage. The Gonz is modeled after an oldschool deck design: wider than your average modern deck, and with a tapered tail and pointed spoon nose. It’s got a good heft, and for a tall rider it doesn’t flip out from under one’s feet too easliy. It’s odd how much difference an inch or so of extra deck space can make–I think I’ve found the perfect plank after all these years of riding!

After an hour or so of shredding, a couple of the local Beaz crew made a noisy appearance, riding into the downtown skatepark on their customized “low rider” white-wall tire wheeling, banana-seat slinging, souped-up bikes, which had just recently received the added customization of…motors! These things can go up to thirty klicks, and don’t require a license to operate just so long as there is also the option of using pedal power. But why peddle when you’ve got petro-burnin’ metal?

The winter has been hard on my system. I had to take numerous breaks from skating today just to catch my breath. My asthma is worse than ever…a combination of not swimming, too much sedentary reflection, excessive caffeine, and the everyday Hamilton smog cover. My little excursion today just might have saved me from serious pulmonary trauma. I continually tell myself that it’s time to turn in the ‘ol wheelieboard and consent to becoming dignified and portly. But then the sun comes out, the pavement appears from under its blanket of winter sludge, and I just can’t help busting a move or two.

The new game at the park is called (if I remember) “1 up” and is a variation of the older game SKATE. A rider does a trick, and then the other riders must follow suit, landing the same trick or they get a letter “S”. But once all the other riders have landed the trick, then the first rider must land the original trick and an additional trick, with the other riders following at the risk of getting another letter (“K”, “A”,”T” etc). The game proceeds in this manner with the original rider attempting to land the increasingly long string of tricks and the other players copying him or her, until the original rider fails to land a trick. Then the next rider has to land all of the original rider’s tricks, plus a new one of his or her own, with the other riders following suit until the new leader fails, and so on until everyone but one rider has spelled out “SKATE”. I would say this is a fun game, and an improvement on the original move-for-move version of SKATE. Players get to build on each other’s runs, and practice a line of tricks over and over until they get it. Kind of like the way a video game gets increasingly complicated and challenging the longer you play them.