The Great And Secret Show

Savor it — the feeling of place, and knowing that one fulfills an important role in this cosmic AD&D 3rd Edition game that continues to unfold like a customized DM screen. In Western Hemisphere cities, the skateboarder takes on the form of an elongated dowel, with a flat head and bristles, a broom pushed across the urban plazas and beneath the highway overpass, shaping DIY transitions and waxing ledges and in the process sweeping aside society’s even less-desirables, the crack addict, the homeless alcoholic. Ocean Howell, in an interview following the inaugural ‘Pushing Boarders’ conference, describes the concept thusly:

The one I was thinking about was Burnside: that’s a classic one. So they started pouring concrete up to the pillars underneath the bridge and then the city (the Oregon Department of Transportation more precisely) comes and says: ‘what the fuck are you guys doing? We’re knocking this down. This is unauthorised.’ And all the surrounding property owners said, ‘don’t you dare! This was an open-air drug market and a big problem. These guys are scrounging, drinking beers and shouting but they’re fine.’ People’s cars aren’t getting broken into, it’s less threatening on the streets because you know the lower rung of people who are really hard up and so therefore commit actual crimes, they’ve been scared out. So that was the rationale by which they allowed Burnside to remain. Not because they were trying to support youth. I mean that was a supplementary benefit.

WH: You think their PR people tried to spin it like: ‘yeah we’re going to help the kids’?
No, it’s to help property value. And that is a tool in the tool kit of urban planners in the United States now. And they know; if you get one alone in a room they’ll be perfectly frank about it. Why do they site parks under bridges? Because that’s always where you get a rung below you, on the social scale… Right? And I mean there’s a good case to be made for doing that though… It’s very complicated because you know what skate culture is like and especially at a park… It’s a supportive community for kids who might otherwise end up in that situation. In Portland there was other places where they were proposing to put parks and the homeless advocates didn’t want it because they knew that that meant moving out their clients. They knew that was a tactic.

Last year, Ricky Oyola described similarly summed up the swapping out of various human classes:

‘If these little kids aren’t scared, why should I be scared; I’m a 30-year-old man coming home from work.’ Once it’s safe for young skaters, it’s safe for young male office workers. Once it’s safe for male office workers, it becomes safer for female office workers, then for older folks, and so on.”

Where does this leave the broom? Once refuse has been satisfactorily brushed aside, research shows that brooms typically are placed inside a “broom closet,” which The Free Dictionary defines as “a small room for storing brooms and other cleaning equipment.” In our day to day lives, we have knowed these “small rooms” as skateparks, safely fenced enclosures in which skills can be practiced in a structured and professionally designed environment, properly zoned, with the appropriate payments made to the planners, designers and contract players. The “other cleaning equipment” can be understood to refer to scooter kids and 2018’s surviving rollerbladers.

A bleak fate, even if bands of skateboarders were to somehow collectively embrace their broominess and enlist themselves in service to municipalities for targeted DIY spotbuilding/undesirable relocation campaigns, compensated with golden doubloons and five to ten years’ worth of footage, photos and good times with the homies. But as with any human endeavour, in the metagalactic sense, this all is only temporary.

Just as we now entrust computers to handle many of the complex and mundane details behind everyday life — processing financial transactions; opening doors for the baggage-laden, the armless and the just plain lazy; milking cows; flying fighter jets — it’s reasonable to assume that machines shall assume more difficult tasks over time, possibly including gourmet meal preparation and navigating crab-fishing vessels. Where this leaves humankind is less clear. Deeply rose-tinted glasses may be required to envision programming and electronic maintenance jobs replacing one-for-one those automated in truck-driving, lumberjacking and salesmaking.

And the brooms? Similar to how homo sapiens has dotingly organized the world’s less-dominant species into a system of parks, preserves and zoos, charitable post-singularity AIs could adopt a similar stance, repurposing established cities’ and towns’ increasingly antiquated infrastructure as free-range habitats for humans. Just as human-run animal parks strive to replicate natural environments, it is doubtless somewhat potentially possible that computers will seek to recreate ‘natural’ human surroundings and experiences such as malls, botanical gardens and monster truck rallies. In this instance, the skateboarder sub-class likely would be released from skateparks’ artificial approximation of real street spots, freed to interact and butt up against various other groups carrying on the roles of property-owners, security guards, the homeless and so on.

With several generations now raised within a ten-minute SUV ride to the nearest municipally funded skatepark, can they or their parents be persuaded to resist the allure of additional professionally poured concrete without corresponding social services and funding directed toward those in need — who may already have been shifted out of sight and mind thanks to earlier spatial realignments? Was Anti-Hero’s ‘eviction’ series a nose thumbed against gentrification or a winking acknowledgement of the company’s own role in the greater scheme? Did Turbo predict the joy, frustration and inner turmoil of such societal brooming in his iconic ‘Breakin’ scene three and a half decades ago?

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4 Responses to “The Great And Secret Show”

  1. asd ajsfhh Says:

    AI-generated shredding is going to replace professional skateboarders as well. Remember https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GnoqHHdVP0 ?

  2. thejunkpirate Says:

    You had me, but then you lost me.

  3. skateboarders gentrifiers property values city | BOARD RAP Says:

    […] Click to BOIL THE OCEAN for the future and thoughts of skateboarders as gentrifiers  […]

  4. Anonymous Says:

    It’s illegal to use a legal name
    Read & share #BCCRSS http://www.idsillegal.wordpress.com

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