Remember this dude
Although I’m sure it says “photographer” on whatever passes for Michael Burnett’s resume, he’s been my favorite working skate magazine writer for several years now, evidenced mostly by his ability to make the nth Toy Machine road trip interesting and often hilarious. Which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that other magazines have given up entirely on pounding out any copy whatsoever to accompany Company X’s most recent batch of Barcelona photos. I’m not sure how much of the material he makes up (he was pretty candid about King of the Road rule-bending practices a couple years back) but stories like the one about the bizarro Russian hotel generally are more worth the time than Josh Harmony’s latest nosegrind.
For example, Burnett’s musings on foreign-born moms, from the intro of the Russia article:
Joseph’s mom was from Nicaragua and wore absurdly low-cut flower-print blouses that elicited an equal amount of curiosity and shame among those of us who were unable to fight the urge to stare at her sagging, sun-damaged bosom. She seemed to have learned English primarily from her children, Joseph and his nine-year-old sister, and the deficiencies in this source were revealed by her ready use of the term “dooky,” and more fantastically, whenever she’d lose her temper when we happened to be over at the house.
“You are faggot when you leave your jacket on the floor!” she’d yell. “Why you have to be such retard, dork face?!”
Joseph, to his credit, seemed largely unembarrassed by his mother and of the foreign moms; she was the most well adjusted of the lot. She worked part-time and had actual friends, other ladies of international origin who would drop by to smoke Capri’s and chug Slim-Fast shakes over episodes of Oprah.
“See, Joseph!” she’d holler from the breakfast nook. “That’s why I have to do for me! Like Oprah say! I can’t always do for you guys all the time! You father no want to validate my feelings!”
Burnett has a new book coming out called The Outskirts of Awesome, which looks like it could maybe be a companion piece of the last Hold Steady record, and I’m assuming that it’s probably a somewhat more whimsical take on Ed Templeton-style Midwestern teensploitation stuff. I was intrigued to see he’s also got a couple short stories published, so I might have to thumb through one of these if it shows up in the skate shop, at least until Google wins their battle against the librarians to let people pirate books over the internet. In the meantime he also launched a website that’s got a load of photos, all his Thrasher covers and a link to the Burnout blog which I should maybe put on the sidebar thing over there. It has supremely entertaining shit such as the last sequence in this entry.
One more Burnett story, from KOTR 2006:
We’d decided that, even though Griffin had ollied a six-stair naked in Atlanta, we’d be better off trying to get a harder trick to win the Sherm’s Revenge points. Ed has impossible spine variations on lock so he warmed up with some, while Billy quickly kickflip lipped the nearby 12-stair rail. When that was over it was almost dark, but the park was still pretty crowded and there were several children present, including an eight-year-old girl on rollerblades.
California’s a weird place, so we didn’t want Ed to get charged with a sex crime or something just for skating a skatepark naked. We waited until everyone left and then lit the spine up with the generator. This turned out to be a very prudent decision as Ed, concerned with issues of shrinkage, could soon be seen trying to jack it up over in the corner.
“Which man showed you his penis?” I imagined the police officer asking the little girl.
“The big one,” she’d reply, “and he was pulling on it, too.”
Naked skating, when done with a quick dropping of the pants followed by a spectacular maneuver, is one thing. Naked skating, where the man takes 15 minutes to land his trick, meanwhile standing around nude in front of a bunch of teenage girls who happened to wander by a few minutes into it, is quite another. Ed definitely took it for the team on this one, and I can’t help but think the experience may have been humbling for an artist so quick to display the peckers of his peers.