Posts Tagged ‘Go Skateboarding Day’

The Breakfast Club

October 26, 2009

Also, this

Here at BTO we understand the power and authority of free markets. Tony Hawk for instance popularized the McSqueeb hair-cut and named a trick after Madonna, in between raising awareness of international arms trafficking via the movie “Gleaming the Cube” – therefore he gained power and many dollars. The question upon our minds this week is what recognition from a newly created Skateboarding Hall of Fame could possibly offer the Birdman that he does not already have, aside from a hazy notion of name recognition among future skateboarders with the inclination to read press releases, but we all know this to be untrue because Tony Hawk is in it for the money, the money and the cars, cars and the clothes, as clearly stated on his upcoming solo album.

But the skateboard hall of fame is the latest brainchild of the International Association of Skateboard Companies, that conglomeration of businessmen and superemployed werewolfs who devised the international “Go Skateboarding Day” and helps get kids in Arkansas arrested. As to their rationale, we’ll let IASC executive director John Bernards tell the tale:

“Taking the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the individuals who have so greatly influenced and shaped the industry allows us to look forward to the future of skateboarding without ever forgetting our roots and everything it took to get where we are today – each and every shenanigan, triumph and challenge.”

So choke on it, On Video magazine. No, but from a purely internet entertainment value perspective there are a number of funnier ways they could have approached this, for instance, judging on the criteria of “most jailed” or “most times caught on fire” or most money in the bank by the time NSS/Power/Air Speed stopped cutting checks. But instead there is only this vague notion of “influencing and shaping,” which plainly sounds like a bra ad, while spanning some unspecified time frame, similar to a series of bra catalogues. Ought not Steve Cab be in there somewhere between the Tonys Alva and Hawk? If we’re going to hook up Bruce Logan, why not the legions of additional talented freestylers and slalomers who nobly gave their dignity and lives so we could enjoy this family restaurant? Er, Rodney Mullen? What about all those guys who invented skateboarding by nailing rollerskate wheels to two-by-fours, often found slumped atop stools in various bars? What are they, chopped liver?

As a largely uninformed third party, it is incumbent upon this blog to predict that these type of annoying and largely pointless questions will dog the SHOF (or SHOE if you like) as long as it persists, which is of course part of the whole idea. Kind of like when VH1 counts down the top 400 celebrity somethings, killing valuable airtime but also sewing the seeds of discourse across office water-coolers and internet chat-venues the world over. Is BTO blindly and blunderingly playing into the IASC’s hand just with this misguided post? Perhaps, which is why I will slyly continue to refer to it as SHOE.

Back to the cultural significance. I submit to you, is the average peanut-leaguer more aware of Mickey Mantle because of multiple references on syndicated Seinfeld re-runs, or because he’s enshrined in some privately operated shrine in Cooperstown NY, home of shrines? Is there more to this SHOE beyond self-aggrandizement and some type of vague promotion of the “sport”? Is skate-boarding history, such as it is, the sort of thing that’s learned in museums and on’s offbeat sports page, or on the streets? (I.E., not learned at all.)

Trophies and contest purses aside there is (was?) an aspect of all this shit that’s more about shooting spitballs at the homecoming kings and star quarterbacks than hoarding achievements and gala dinners. I’m sure the SHOE will raise all manner of money for new skateparks and promotions etc, and all involved are sweet bros with only the bro-est of intentions, but ought not the arbitrator of influence and, er, “shaping” be whether or not kid kickflip at the park recognizes a name, or knows how a certain trick came about? The limitations of physics aside, wasn’t one of the main attractions the lack of vicious rules and by-laws, along with the trappings and ceremony of the institutionalized sports? Can we expect to see a SHOE spot among the career aims of Ryan Sheckler, Greg Lutzka and Chaz Ortiz? And is Bo Turner lurking out back with violent designs on the winners’ lunch money?

Hallmark holiday

June 21, 2008


Remember that Simpsons episode where the suits are trying to think up a new summer holiday to sell greeting cards, presents and “assorted gougables”? I had a nice cynical chuckle over it at the time, until a couple years later when I heard about Sweetest Day, basically Valentine’s Day 2 in October invented by some candy company fat-cat types who insist they didn’t make it up. Hallmark still pushes it with cards and shit, but somehow it has yet to catch on, with the bizarre exception of Detroit I guess.

To the IASC’s credit they have not, as far as I can tell, tried to pretend that Go Skateboarding Day isn’t their creation. Although maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. It’s hard to imagine that designating the first day of summer for skating moves a significant number of boards/shoes/skate-related gougables, but then again, I’m out here in the peanut gallery. Somebody at Active or CCS hit me up if the Nike 6.0s start flying out of the warehouse.

No, as far as I can tell it’s more to raise skateboarding’s profile, ostensibly to build support for building parks and to let the squares know “we’re out here.” Which makes sense, I guess. Skateboarding is still beating the pants off other sports in terms of growth, and despite the damnedest efforts of ESPN and the Dew, there’s still no world series of skateboarding for all those Sheckler-foam-hand-wearing fans to tune in every year.

But skating isn’t baseball, parks get boring, and most other places skateboarding remains illegal. Having come of age in the days when Tony Hawk was sleeping in his Lexus, generally I’m a fan of keeping it that way, and gatherings of thousands of people, who commence to cheer, wave their illicit instruments and then put them to use isn’t how you keep a low profile. (Unless you’re in Palestine on New Year’s Eve.) It kind of reminds me of those weed legalization rallies, where all the hippies come out to the park, blaze while the cops sort of look the other way, then march to the capitol for a couple fiery speeches. Then everybody goes home and watches their back for the next 364 days. Keep the faith, Willie.

So in a way I’m with the people who poo-poo “Wild in the Streets” and the related shindigs that went down around the world today. Mobs of skaters barging spots and stopping traffic gets us noticed, but probably not in any way that’s positive from the secular viewpoint, and may well serve the agenda of the “build a park and write tickets everywhere else” approach to regulating skateboards.

However. I’ve been in on one of these Emerica events, and it was a pretty amazing experience. The rah-rah fist-pumping stuff beforehand was pretty whatever, but once the crowd broke for the street it was crazy to hear hundreds of wheels hitting the ground at once, charging down a major road, people sitting in their cars or standing on the sidewalk just staring. Trying tricks with people skating four feet in front of you and four feet behind inevitably leads to pile-ups and it turns into everyone bombing down the street at full speed, and slowing to a cruise when people start getting tired. It’s a pretty unique situation to have your usual posse on one side and have a dude you’ve seen in magazines pushing on the other side, and thousands of skateboarders hitting a spot, chilling, skating, and moving on, all together… all that isn’t something you’d ever see with, say, baseball. That day took me back to the first big demo I ever went to, how wide-eyed and awe-struck I was to see so many skateboarders in one place, and the reckless camaraderie when it turned into a big free-for-all session afterwards.

Over the next few days I’m sure we’ll hear all about poor choices of venue and various renditions of “don’t taze me bro,” but hopefully Go Skateboarding Day will amount to something more than soft news features on local TV stations, speechifying and funding for a few pre-fab parks. Maybe it’ll bump up sales for some real skate shops, some kids will get to skate with their favorite pros and maybe–just maybe–it will warm the hearts of bitter old skaters such as myself. Nah, never happen.

By the way the photo above is from Alex Cave.