July 19, 2012

Pasta At Walls

So ingrained is my suspicion of MSM skateboard coverage that I reflexively retweeted the tweet above (that was painful to type, still) with a little bit of commentating, a simple "Weird" attached at the end. Our instincts are not to trust a major media outlet, even one as revered as The New Yorker, to handle something skateboard related well, especially when they cite the depressed and teeny-bopped TWS as some sort of authority, though, granted, their "30 Most Influential" piece wasn't that far off the tracks. It's also dawned on me that we should no longer automatically denigrate MSM efforts to quantify skateboarding for the masses in a meaningful way, because, gasp, we've infiltrated, dudes.

With that said, the New Yorker piece in question starts out a little suspect, for the first couple of sentences, and quickly coalesces into something with which we in the choir can enjoy. The author, James Guida, provides a plausible "snubs" list for those who should have been included on TWS' list (Elissa Steamer especially, think about it), while meaningfully explaining a lot about skateboarding in a way that's palatable to all. He hits his highest marks discussing the ride and Gonz in Video Days (which is described as "one of the best [parts] ever") as "a novel act of the imagination."

Beyond, Guida discusses the older skater's impulse (he very accurately pegs this age group as 30-38-years-old) to discuss the pains of the game in an older age and the nostalgia talk that follows. I find myself, after some introspection and the recently uninstalled early 90's retrospective that hung at Familia until a couple of days ago, more and more reluctant to truly bank on the early 90's (a sort of constructed memory for me, which I never experienced) or the late 90's (which I experienced) as some sort of unadulterated ideal. Guida explains well that much of everything that happens now is grounded in the decade that began more than 20 years ago, but doesn't touch on the feeling I have that too much retrospection in skateboarding might inhibit the future. If the ideal video part occurred 21 years ago, what have we been doing all this time?

Guida was never posed that question nor attempted to answer (he touches on Questionable as a milepost in progression of tricks early on in the piece), but it's interesting to think that this thing that we do, that's lasted some 50 or 60 years, might have peaked in art and fun and form and expression, on VHS of all formats, a full five or so years before Little Johnny and all his friends, who make up the majority of us who do this thing, now, were born. It's easy enough to write off, but still, even when folks are asked about the best video parts of all time (disregarding Gonz' to move forward), recent times are mostly neglected and we might call out Mariano in Mouse, or Koston in Menikmati* or (for younger old dudes) Marc Johnson in Fully Flared. The parts previously listed came out roughly 15, 10 and five years ago, respectively. Don't forget all the 37-year-olds that'll claim Carroll in Questionable, which is 20-years-old.

It'd be easy enough to say "Top-Any-Number" lists are stupid because of opinions and leave it at that, no matter how stupid and reductive that line of reasoning is. That said, such lists would be well served by an expiration date which coincides with their date of publication. Influence, with a capital "I" waxes and wains (mostly wains, when dependent on the collective memory of an act which trends, day by day, younger) and must make way for Busenitz and Janoski and the PRod and the O'Neill and whoever insists on hopping around after making a trick (not Kalis, but he explains). The Gonz is and forever will be an influence, but perhaps in this day and age of forgetfulness, he won't be the influence, but an influencing factor.

That The New Yorker would pick up upon such a thing as who's influenced skateboarding the most, albeit as well done as it is, somehow signals the outdatedness of the whole affair and indicts myself as well. For the most part, obvious now, those writing about skateboarding are the old guard, perhaps one that's outdated. If there's to be a glimmer of hope now, and forever on, it's that many of our younger contemporaries tend to exist within a myopic version of skateboarding which moves too fast as an ephemeral thing. Quality is lost to newness, newness trumps history and begets ABD, those in the know laugh and keep influencing and providing a memory. The Gonz is safe.

*Someone must love it.


Anonymous said...

MJ - Blackcat
Carroll - Modus
BA - Welcome to Hell
Puleo - Penal Code 100A
Ricky - Eastern Exposure
Jeron - Mouse
Stevie - Chocolate Tour
Gino - Chocolate Tour
Guy - Video Days
AVE - DC video
D Way - DC video
PJ - Wonderful Horrible Life
Rodney Mullen -Questionable
Pat Duffy - Questionable
Reynolds - The End
The Chief - Misled Youth

I think 25 is narrowing it down pretty hard for anybody named joe or the new yorker, but lets be serious. all of the ingredients have made it what it is today, and to say there are 25 vary influential parts is pretty rough. Dylan and Dennis are gods now.

And dont sleep on Kalis, i predict a dope part in the dgk video.

rodrigo tx - cant stop
- menikmati

sprntrl said...

great piece Munz, although you know I'm going to remain steadfast in my convictions that skateboarding never will be what it once was. Too many cooks in the kitchen these days....

Terry said...

Great writing. At 33 I still get to the plazas and downtown(s) alot and it does feel different to see the types of kids that get into skating now vs when I started. Kalis said it best about it being a different mindset now where skating is Just a part of Life, more than a lifestyle. Anyway, I'm grateful to have seen this thing called skating through all the changes, but it's always been amazing and riding one will always be amazing. That's it.