Timbre #45: Goodbye, Shithead, My Old Friend

Temper and anger and madness and frustration.

They’re my most familiar buddies these days. And even though I keep my relationships with these most royal of downers close to the chest—surprising the less familiar of my acquaintances when they first witness a board-splintering tirade or toe-to-toe confrontation with one of my personal demons—they’ve been with me almost as long as I’ve been skateboarding. Probably longer.

BA takes time for a break in the action. Photo: Jon Humphries

As a matter of fact, they actually may have driven me from my own home at one point, forcing me out into the driveway, onto the sidewalk, on the streets.

Then I was skateboarding. Over to the next road. Up to the store. Around the block. It was sweet isolation and it was diversion and it was agreeable. And I didn’t look around to see who else was there because I was thinking about where my feet went.

Since then I haven’t skated the neighborhoods I’ve lived in too much. Maybe a thirty-foot cruise down to my car only to toss my board in the trunk on my way to the promise of a ramp or a ditch. Or that spot in the next city over. Or that park halfway across the country. Sad to say, once I got my driver’s license, I ended my obsessive compulsion with the cracks and bumps of the streets I call home.

Clark Hassler keeps his funk in the vicinity of the trunk. Photo: Jon Humphries

I’m not complaining, though. All those faraway somewheres were/are worth the trips, but you don’t skate to get there. And not until you’re skating do you get to step away from the bad and the neg and not see anyone else.

The cliché sounds sillier than ever. “Skateboarding is great because you can just step out your door and roll.” But how many of us really do that? I mean deliberately.

And if we do, we talk it down, don’t we? “I just skated to the gas station.” Or “I just pushed around here.” But you and I both know, skating like that is not only or just or less than. Skating like that is the shitty rough street that makes your feet numb. Skating like that is the smooshed down trough worn smooth from the weight of thousands of car tires. Skating like that is the cracks in the sidewalk and the line you take nollieing over one and carving around the next. Skating like that is pushing your board ahead of you up the hill as you walk and then waiting for it to roll back.

Skating like that is nothing.

And I hesitate to say it because of the sweet corniness of it, but skating like that is also everything.

Skating like that is close to home. Photo: Bill Eppridge

Look, there’s no need to go into this much deeper. As certain as it is that your heart’s beating in your chest, you’re also living somewhere. Hell, even if you’re homeless, you’re living somewhere. And if you’re like me, you’re also swatting at and shooing away those pesky glooms and dooms.

So let’s steal something from them, let’s escape the inescapable, let’s run away just once more than we return. Because, really, our front stairs can be as far away as Barcy, or Sydney, or New York City, and even though they say the first step is the greatest, sometimes it’s all you need to separate yourself from your inner shithead. Either that, or a swift kick in the nuts.

I recommend the former, though.

It’s hard to do anything for a while after you go the whole swift-kick route.