Sun Tzu, the famous tactician for whom our shiny star and exotic animal exhibits now are named, defined total victory not as the end of any battle or campaign or war but rather when one’s opponent is paying hefty and recurring fees to operate a pancake franchise in his former territory, and comping the victor all premium toppings. This battleground truism rings as accurately now as it ever did in the comparatively topping-poor days of Mr Tzu, and in particular regarding the security guard, that grimacing, oft-charred coyote to skateboarding’s trim and turnt up roadrunner.
As skating’s profile has expanded and been deemed more lucrative by television channels, beverage conglomerates and concerned parents, the by-definition fraught and frosty security guard/skater dynamic has mutated its way through several forms and appendage assortments. Once squarely classified as paid haters indulging jock-minded power trips, the security guard has been alternately corrupted, co-opted and caricatured as the relationship’s balance of power has skidded and slid toward skateboarders, who today wield an an increasingly outsized cultural cudgel and cheap video recording equipments.
Travel back, if you would, to 2003, when skaterboarders in the employ of Emerica shoes took some of the early, halting steps toward sidelining security guards’ stature and dignity by filming the bribery of one in pursuit of jubble-set glory, the stairs’ blurry-faced would-be defender capitulating with the dangling of a $100 bill and a warbly ‘okay.’ That same year Rob Dyrdek did the concept one better, hiring his own security guard and cementing the dollar’s supremacy over the once hallowed security guard code. For a generation of stretch denim-purchasing yungsters the precedent was set; in subsequent Baker productions, Jim Greco would go on to good naturedly tussle with security guards and play at parlor-trick hypnosis for laughs, while elsewhere security went cheerfully ignored, or worse, reduced to asking politely.
Where does all this leave the rent-a-cop as 2015 staggers out? No longer threats and by now passe to debate, they seem to have been relegated to moving obstacles for those confident and daring enough to put a trick in their face, such as LRG nollie inward heelflip blaster Miles Silvas, or several, as the GX1000 consortium recently demonstrated in Japan. Ty Evans’ slo-mo drone ballet ‘We Are Blood’ positioned security as worthy if ineffectual water-fight opponents, while the prospect of fleeting Vine fame inspires some in the profession to abandon their fraternal code and defect.
Yet as security guards’ total defeat appears close at hand, one may ponder a certain pocket of emptiness in skating’s collective soul*, upon which a phantom finger may be hard to place. Bart Simpson, that 1990s skate standard-bearer and this decade a regular feature upon Justin Figuoera’s Ebay vintage apparel purchases, once complained of a similarly eerie malaise upon triumphing over his own authority dispenser, Principle Skinner:
BS: It’s weird, Lise. I miss having Skinner as a friend, but I miss him even more as an enemy.
LS: I think you need Skinner, Bart. Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty, Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow, even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.
Has skating, imbued with greater cultural clout and youthful impunity, at this point effectively shaved the one eyebrow of the world’s rent-a-cops? If Mello Yello were pulled from the marketplace, would Paul Rodriguez’s tricks bubble with the same sweet zest? Will skating and security guarding only truly set aside their differences and come to understand and respect one another after they are both framed in a drug deal gone bad and jailed among the many bloodthirsty criminals they helped put away, forced to rely upon their wits, brawn and one other to break free, clear their names and reclaim their badges?
*could also refer to gaps in peoples’ Collective Soul album collections