Kickflip First Try: Just What the World Needs

Another column about skateboarding.

Just what the world needs. 

This one will be different.

It will not be about the discourse.

The discourse around the insane amount of content is a subject itself. 

I will not be keeping up with the latest videos or clips.

Unless I want to.

Who knows what I’m going to do?

I’m surprising.

This is the first one.

A syllabus?

An introduction.

What is skateboarding? Is skateboarding a sport, a game, a hobby? Why not art? Lots of things are art that are not art, so why not art? I’ve always thought of skateboarding as a dance. It is a battle with the self, I against I. I against eye, if you don’t fall right. There are no points or winners. Unless you count the slamming of a body against concrete again and again, to develop a relationship with the spot. To dominate it, own it. (Even a poet wants to own.1)

The two prime movers in the Universe are Time and Luck.2

Only if you’re sitting down.

Any other time, the two prime movers in the Universe are Force and Blood.

Here are some facts about me and about skateboarding:

A skateboard is a wooden plank and four wheels. It has some other stuff too, like trucks and bearings, but that isn’t the point. 

It is a simple thing. A toy. 

It’s meant to be played with.

I haven’t skated in six months. 

I haven’t seen my girl in two weeks.

It has been the longest two weeks of my life.

Long enough to understand the theory of relativity.

I average two skate videos a day. I’ve been watching the current shit, keeping up with SOTY’s. Not having an Instagram has handicapped me but Jenkem Magazine keeps me in the know. 

I was getting laced with knowledge by the youngins at the parks but I’m not supposed to be skating.

Got my Vans on but they look like sneakers.3

I hurt my knee six months ago.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about what skateboarding is.

(Poetry, what is it? I’m pretty sure nobody knows.4)

My favorite song about skateboarding is “skate witches” by Teen Suicide. 

My second favorite song about skateboarding is “STD” by xFilesx. 

There is “regular” stance which means left foot forward and “goofy” stance which means right foot forward. 

It’s my left knee that’s hurt, the one I push with. 

Longboards are the wrong board. 

My favorite skater of all time is Anthony van Engelen. 

Jim Greco slamming into a curb 1:30 into “Jobs? Never!!”

The feet in a poem and wheels on the ground, the snap of an ollie, the stress.

There’s a reason a string of tricks is called a line. 

When I talk about skateboarding, I am not speaking on Skate League or the goddamn Olympics. Strictly street skating. Robots like Nyjah Houston and Shane O’Neil are amazing athletes but they lack style. I like toe drags, tail scrapes, snowplows. Watch the way Steve Berra lands the backflip in Yeah Right! and you’ll see what talking about. That’s style. Mistakes. You can’t spend all your time at the skate park either, skating was made in the streets and that’s where it belongs. It changes the way you look at and interact with architecture. You develop Terminator vision for possible skate spots. The city becomes a playground. A power grid.

As a skater, I am a never a foreigner. In Prague, I googled skate spots and showed up to some ledges. I was met by strangers who knew what I was about. We skated and talked all night, sometimes in the same language. Skateboarding makes you a citizen of the world, not of a specific nation-state. I can move throughout the world in a way most people can’t, or won’t.

There are no rules in skating but there are General Principles and etiquette. There is an observed but unspoken order to who goes when, a delicate balance on who showed up first and mutual respect. There is an appropriate amount of stoke and support. There is a communal aspect to treatment and respect of public and DIY spots. In short, there is a Protocol you can’t learn externally.

It’s like an inside joke.

You just had to be there. 

I’ve been skating since I was 15. I am 33. 18 years. 

Skating replaced team sports. I got tired of the competitiveness, the uniforms, practice, locker rooms. I didn’t want to rely on other people for my success. My mom got me a shitty deck from Wal-Mart and I learned heelflips, quit the baseball team, and got a real set-up from the local skate shop. 

If the various skate spots are church, the skate shop is the bar. 

If you are having trouble landing a trick just go faster.

That is the best advice I have. 

I don’t like to film clips anymore. 

I like going out with Bobby to shoot film.  

I like empty parking lots and curbs. Flat ground tricks and some tailslides. 

Maybe a ledge. 

Skating has become a solitary act. 

A moving meditation.

Keeping up with skateboarding is not easy. There is too much content. 

How do you know which stuff to pay attention to? 

I think Ishod Wair is the best skater alive. 

He won Skater of the Year in 2013.5 

I think they’ve only given it to one other black skater.

Tyshawn Jones in 2018.

I have a terrible memory because of all the concussions and the drugs. 

But I can remember shit if I really want to. 

I went to Ohio in December and thought, “Where do they skate?” 

It’s so flat.

Which ain’t bad for cruising.

I tore my knee, relapsed on drugs, and found my soul mate in 2020.

It is 2021.

I am seeing my doctor again next month, February. 

Time and luck. 

He will tell me if I can skate or if things have gotten worse.

1,4 Eileen Myles, Inferno

2 Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

3 The Pack, “Vans”

5 An award Thrasher Magazine gives out. 

Cory Bennet is 33 and lives in Northern California. His work has appeared in Entropy Mag, Witch Craft Magazine, Dostoyevsky Wannabe, and Shabby Doll House. Cory is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University. He is on twitter @melancory666.

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