February 27, 2013

Lehrer and Pappalardo, Together At Last

Last year, wunderkind journalist Jonah Lehrer got caught cheating. First, people started noticing he was recycling his own material, which was embarrassing. Then, a month or so later, it was game over when it came out he'd made up Bob Dylan quotes for his book.

Lehrer dropped off the radar for a while until he popped back up and pocketed $20,000 from the Knight Foundation for a speech, something the Knight Foundation promptly regretted. The Knight Foundation episode prompted Gawker to call for Lehrer's journalistic head. Here's what's up:

"Redemption is the fundamental promise of humanity. We should not be enthusiastic about cutting off anyone's chance to better themselves after a downfall. But that must be balanced with the fact that we work in a competitive industry in which many, many good and talented and deserving people are not able to make a living, simply because there is only so much work and so much money and so many good full time journalism jobs paying a living wage to go around.

It makes sense, then, to prioritize hiring those who have not plagiarized or fabricated or otherwise committed a grievous, beyond-the-pale journalistic crime. Having your name on the tip of every editor's tongue, even if it's for doing something bad, goes a long way in this business; it only takes one editor to say, 'Hey, that guy Lehrer was really smart before he fucked up, maybe we should give him a try.' (If you think this can't happen, you have a far higher opinion of media hiring practices than I do.) In other words, Jonah Lehrer, even today, is probably in a better long-term position to get good quality writing gigs than is, say, a new and squeaky clean graduate of some Midwestern journalism school who doesn't have any personal friends in the New York media world. This is a repulsive state of things.

So how about this: if you commit a huge, inexcusable journalistic crime, on the level of Blair or Lehrer, you get blacklisted from paid journalism jobs. If you take time off, and do soul-searching, and improve yourself, and become a truly better person, and achieve spiritual redemption, we will be the first to stand up and applaud you. But you still shouldn't be hired, until every talented person who didn't commit an inexcusable journalistic crime is already safely employed. After that, welcome back."

Let's take the reasoning above and apply it to skateboarding. If the cheat, the high crime in journalism is fabrication, then the cheat, the high crime in skateboarding must be being paid to skateboard, but not skating. It's not the perfect analogy, but it works pretty well and that Lehrer/Anthony Pappalardo image should make sense right now.

I don't have an ax to grind with Pops, though I think my initial writing about the guy and his recent-ish interview was a bit soft, in hindsight. Piling on the hindsight, in a sense, is this Jenkem interview with Ty Evans, the logical next step in what would always be a he said vs. he said situation:

"Some older skaters were bummed that the focus was more on the new younger skaters. Was that the plan all along?
When we starting making the film, a month after Fully Flared was released, we had a meeting with everyone. We said basically whoever wanted to be in it, could be in it. Whoever doesn’t, don’t worry about it. The guys with a ton of footage and the big parts are the guys who really went for it. We’re gonna use the best of the best stuff. Some of the older guys weren’t around that much. They run companies, have families, have obligations, they are in their mid to late 30s. I would love to see those other guys in there.

I wanted Poppalardo to have a part so badly I flew out to NY right when we started making this thing and we brought an extra HD camera. We spent an extra $12,000, met a filmer out there, trained him how to film and introduced him to Popps, the whole deal. I tried to get that going, but it never panned out.

Why didn’t it work out?
I don’t think he was into it. Maybe he just wanted to film with Bill and maybe Bill wasn’t filming HD at that time? I would talk to him and he’d say he’s down and wanted to, and had all these spots in mind. I put everything in place there, so if he wanted to film it was there.

Did he get any footage / tricks?
With that filmer and that camera, no. Not one thing."

See where I'm going with this? Let's swap out six words from the Gawker quote above:

"In other words, Anthony Pappalardo, even today, is probably in a better long-term position to get good quality skateboarding gigs than is, say, a new and squeaky clean graduate of some Midwestern skateboard school who doesn't have any personal friends in the California skateboard world. This is a repulsive state of things."

To put it more explicitly, if everybody really is good right now, there's absolutely no reason to waste product, roster spots and money on cheats. Unlike in the case of Lehrer, I'm not calling for Pappalardo's skateboarding head; he's not beyond redemption, though the next time he contemplates another woe-is-me interview, he should go film two minutes of footage and put it out on the Internet, instead.


Anonymous said...

ahh shit, call it like it is, like kalis calling out Dill. someone's image can sell shirts and boards, but someone's skating should hold higher value.

benji meyer said...

I wanna see another Munz part! I'll film it.

henkzilla said...

Thanks Munz, I really couldn't agree more.
I definitely grew up being a huge fan of popps, but that last interview left a sour taste in my mouth. Everyone has had it rough in one way, shape or form. It's what you do to rise above that- that's what makes you rad- not talking about how much it sucks to be yourself.

Templeton said...

I'm all for excommunicating skaters who don't skate while getting paid to skate, but the truth is if your name still sells product then you still have value. With that interview and what Ty said, I think Pappalardo stock has gone way down.

Wylie Tueting said...

I totally agree! -- for sure with the Pappalardo stuff but also with the proposal that Mike film a part (I've been at Familia every Saturday this winter; where you at, Mike?) But back to Pappalardo: I remember when I was in junior high, around the time of his I.E. part -- which was mega polished -- reading an interview in which Jerry Hsu said, as portentously as he could, that Pappalardo is some kind of deeply profound, critical person or something, who can sense -- like few other skateboarders -- the slightest sickness or faults of character in someone. Needless to say, I found that riveting at fifteen, if not quite frightening. And then I waited eight more years for something big to take shape in his skating or commentary, but few things really arose.

Benjamin Ragsdale said...

As I was reading my last Facebook update, I realized that I had just knowingly plagiarized myself. And it worked like gangbusters.