I Pledge Allegiance To My Swag Vol 1., Or: R U Still Down?

Back in the year 1996, many were rewinding Satva Leung’s switch frontside flip and gearing up for several years of cargo pant ownership, while Saturday Night Live alum Al Franken penned a book of political satire that also included a hearty endorsement of the seemingly all-powerful Lexis Nexis search tool, and an anecdote about 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 of people struggling against marginalization.

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. 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 authorities 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, for instance, can rise up and be chattered over 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 woman, while lodging various quips and whatnot. It is worth pondering from the perspective of considering 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, when being shown the door of some loading dock or other, that you had some taste of the challenges faced by other sorts of folks regarded as lower-value or below the norm by the powers that be.

(Here’s a placeholder paragraph where can be shoveled all the necessary and true disclaimers about this pursuit being rooted in a kids’ hobby that we all make a conscious choice to take up, and how there are and will be far worse trials in the world than getting kicked out of spots, termed a “loser” and/or dressed down by the police or security guards.)

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 this 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 a sub-culture 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.

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6 Responses to “I Pledge Allegiance To My Swag Vol 1., Or: R U Still Down?”

  1. intheknow Says:

    i’d like to think that skateboarding would accept her, regardless of the decade during which she came about. by “skateboarding” i mean those of us who are ground-level, grassroots (if you will) practitioners of the activity rather than the industry, black/red sales figures types. i could be wrong, but for me, holding onto the idea that skateboarders are fuck-ups who accept, acknowledge, and befriend the other fuck-ups, no matter how fucked-up, is one of the last beacons of hope i have in a sea of energy-drink, “UFC is the same thing” bullshit.

  2. art hellman Says:

    in some strange way, i think skateboarding needs to be less accepting…not so much in the way of others’ transgender, race, creed, etc…but less accepting of it’s new place next to the baseball mit and scooter and those who treat it as such, including other skateboarders.

    seemingly gone are the days of crews with discriminating tastes in dress and trick selection who would haze younger skaters and/or non-locals with jeers and expletives should they get in the way of one’s trick and/or line…

    I’m not sending out a bulletin asking that all skateboarders act like medieval dickweeds…but a sometimes little less “you’re ok, im ok…peace and love” would be nice.

    Who knows, maybe we’re all just former customers of “Rekall,” and have been implanted with false memories of a virtual time when skateboarding was “cool” and an exclusive haven for misfits, outcasts, and vagabounds.

  3. alt liquor Says:

    could you imagine this girl showing up to skate EMB in it’s hey day?

  4. al Says:

    In other news, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyQhCY9GhQ8

  5. Abadede Says:

    If they made skateboarding a mandatory part of P.E. in every school, and then made each kid write a 30 page research paper on skateboarding, then maybe we could get back to those early days of unpopularity, without risking the death of the industry! Us old men would have the streets again, as the kids would be busy playing games of foursquare behind the local grocery store in rebellion.

  6. Bryan Says:

    I think that Mark, as a skateboarding male in 1996, wouldn’t have “transitioned” until much later in life, if at all. Shit was different back then.

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