For centuries, man schemed and toiled to turn technology to his advantage, from the spearing and roasting of the first woolly mammoth to mass-producing plastic woolly mammoth baubles for personal fun to resurrecting the woolly mammoth via cloning systems. Skateboarders are no different, if one simply swaps out the woolly mammoth for a shambling, hairy metaphor that posits hammers, enders and assorted NBDs, and quick-dry cement, sawzalls, pinned spots, Iphone-ready death lenses and the urethane wheel in place of wooden spears and genome-sequencing software.
Yet just as Russian-made woolly mammoth clones inevitably will turn against their creators* and run rampant across textile mills and used-car lots, technology has been turned into an enemy of skating. The telephone, developed by Alexander Graham Bell to relay stock-market quotations and pizza instructions, was transformed into a high-speed snitching device shortly after the first pools were barged. The powers of metallurgy, honed by the dwarves in the mines of Moria, were harnessed by demonic forces to forge skatestoppers. In the same spirit, skateboarders have fought back.
Now comes a new threat, lurking within the smartphones of children, that promises strife, subjugation and certain doom: the mobile reality role-playing fantasy, Pokemon Go. The premise involves capturing and conscripting fantastical, suitcase-sized creatures and pitting them against one another in battle for the pure glory of it. These cartoonish organisms must be detected by physically traveling to physical world locations where the next step is to stand around swiping upon the telephone screen. There are reasons aplenty to suspect that Pokemon Go is only part of a larger, sickening “game within a game” that may murderously ape the 1990s platformer hit “Lemmings”**.
But the Pokemon game’s demented and unholy true purpose has slowly emerged as sharp-minded watchers began observing the game herding players toward famed skatespots (see above), where their loiterly meanderings provide a skatestopper more effective than a hundred curled metal flanges. Yet the plot runs deeper and hoarier still, given the apparent targeting of sanctioned skateparks as destinations for sheepish players to gather, oblivious with their mass, and obstaclize. Moneyed interests of the world have responded, valuing the Pokemon application to the tune of the Bahamas’ economy.
Could animated, bouncing rabbitoids and birds do what generations of business owners, security guards and disapproving moms have failed at, and erase skateboarding from this mortal coil forevermore? Could Street League and X-Game courses, if not overrun by phone-staring drifters, yet be rendered obsolete if no one looks up from their screen to pump a fist or holler at a 9.0 run? Is Jeremy Klein, with his extensive anime knowledge, disregard for social mores, and increasingly professorial look what with the spectacles, be skateboarding’s only hope to somehow infiltrate the Pokemon Go machinery and destroy it from within?
*As well as the band Kreator most likely
**SNES version soundtrack for all-time top 10
Tags: augmented realities, balrogs, Coma of Souls, gym badges, Jigglypuff, Jurassic Park, Law and Order SVU, pier blocks, Pikachu, Pokemon, Pokestops, skatestoppers, Squirtle, the honey badger market, the Mines of Moria, WigglyTuff, wooly mammoth