If you’re anything like me, back in the year 1996 you were rewinding Satva Leung’s switch frontside flip, gearing up for several years of cargo pant ownership and reading Saturday Night Live alum Al Franken’s foray into political satire via a book called “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot.” There was some entertaining wartime fan fiction as I recall and a hearty endorsement of the seemingly all-powerful Lexis Nexis search tool, as well as an apparently true anecdote about Franken growing up during the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The point of that parable was that as a Jewish family, Franken’s folks felt as though they had an obligation to support the struggle of other groups confronting the Man, etc., which made some sense.
Now it is 50 years later, machines do our bidding and the eras of disco, alternative music and cargo pants all have come and gone. And the magazine King Shit publishes this week an interview with a woman in the process of no longer being a man who also skates. She is from North Carolina, knows her way around a switch backside tailslide and seems generally guarded. Which probably makes sense, since one of the mostly endearing things about this little realm is a sort of terminal immaturity that lends itself to hopping fences, sassing cops and buying merchandise with all types of skulls and fire on it. Alongside a healthy appreciation for bathroom humor comes a mentality where a rumor that pro X might be gay can rise up and be debated/joked about for something like a decade.
If you look to the Slap board, that often harsh portal into some of the views that get kicked around your typical skatepark, everybody’s pretty supportive of this chick, while lodging the necessary quips and whatnot. Which is reassuring from the perspective of still trying to consider skating an outlier subculture. Coming up outside California around the time Thrasher ran the tombstone on its cover, skateboarding was for sure an outsider’s pastime when it came to parents, peers and assorted authorities and so occasionally you’d like to think, when you were being shown the door of some loading dock or other, that you knew how it felt in some way to be dealt with like a second-class citizen.
(Here’s a placeholder paragraph where we can shovel all the necessary and true disclaimers about this being rooted in a kids’ hobby that we all make a conscious choice to pursue and how there are and will be far worse trials in the world than getting kicked out of spots, termed a “loser” and/or tossed in the back of a cop car.)
In the run-up to this interview being published I wondered about whether or not people would have supported this girl’s deal as much in 1996 as the folks on the Slap board seem to be this week, how much of this is indicative of society being more open of mind in 2011 and so on. One of the concerns rambled on about in the past at this blog-site is what becomes of the social fabric of our little realm, with now at tens of millions of kids owning boards, sanctioned skateparks supplanting street spots, lessons and coaches and sports agents and TV shows, yadda yadda. And at what point you can still claim outsider status if more kids are kickflipping than playing shortstop, and whether skateboarding still sets out a welcome mat for misfits, or if they’ll still even want to come in? It seems like in the past there was a time when such types gravitated toward skateboarding but these days you wonder if it’s skateboarding that needs more folks like this girl.