Timbre #52: Be-All, End-All

Almost this whole time—with the exception of this one other time when I was totally wrong—I’ve embraced the belief that we, as skateboarders, are the center of the universe.

Robbie Russo goes Jonathan Livingston over the death box. Photo: Ray Zimmerman

I first acknowledged this as my local heroes traveled the world and met my magazine and video heroes, bringing back tales of how we as small-town zeros were tracking on the global scene. Although we’ve always done what we wanted ’round these parts—gauging what we made or how we looked or what we said by the disgust or resistance of our local population of status quo-ers—when Daniel or Scott or Mike or Bill or Rich or anyone else came home from exotic locations like Orange County or San Jose or Dallas or Denver, they carried with them boards and music and ideas, and these things became the hushed estimates by which we ranked our place in the world. Funnily enough, we were never that far off:

They too had rednecks in Southern California who hated skateboarders? They too had cops in Northern California who loudly and openly questioned your sexual orientation because of your haircut? They too had mothers in Texas who held their children close as you passed by them on the streets? Denver too had livestock?

No way.

But as age and injury and UV rays have worn this man down, I’ve come to grasp that many other people—everyone from cooks and bartenders, cops and lawyers, teachers and long-distance runners—have come to the same comprehensions that we as skateboarders have come to.

Heath Kirchart catches gold, Pony Boy. Photo: Brian Gaberman

Everything sucks!

No, I’m just kidding.

The things that we all understand at around the same time go kinda like this:

There are no friends in the world like ________.
There are no enemies in the world like those I share with fellow _________.
No one in the world can understand what I’ve gone through to get to this point in my life except another _________.

My fill-in-the-blank word—and I’m sure yours too—is skateboarder or some variation thereof. And since the day I voluntarily identified myself as such, being a skateboarder has meant that I knew something the rest would never know anything about.

I liked that. We liked that. And even if it wasn’t discussed, you could tell by how you were treated by other skaters and skater-friendlies that we all felt the same. We had a secret and it wasn’t something that we were going to part with easily.

But in the vein of all the best bands who were at the top of their game when they didn’t know what the hell they were doing, we still hold tight to the naïve idea that skaters know better, skaters live better, skaters are better than everyone else. And although we’re not usually ones who pride ourselves on the expression of pride, we can say this: We’re more proud of being skateboarders than we are of being anything else.

Gonz wallies for peace in the Middle East. Photo: Brian Gaberman

Personally, I know this and blindly believe in it because all my roads have led to and through the world of skateboarding. Without it I wouldn’t have stopped doing all kinds of stupidity … and I wouldn’t have begun all kinds of new stupidity. Without skateboarding I wouldn’t have met the people who are my friends, I wouldn’t have traveled to the places I’ve traveled to, I wouldn’t have experienced the pains and pleasures that have characterized my life, and most importantly, I wouldn’t be a part of my immediate family—the family I know, love, and would proudly (that word again) sacrifice for, fight for, and die for.

Yeah, I know. Yawn.

But as cheesy or boring or dumb as it sounds, skateboarding is everything—the be-all and end-all.

And that’s it.

Like I said, we are not alone here and things would be pretty shitty if we were—of that I’m also sure. Because if the rest of the fools weren’t filling in their own blanks and coming to their own most-important acknowledgments, then almost everyone would be skateboarding … right here in the center of our little amazing universe—cooks and bartenders, cops and lawyers, teachers and long-distance runners—and then what would we do? Then how would we know our place? Then where would we turn to express our naïve pride?


Neil Blender gets a little handsy in North Van. Photo: Grant Brittain

Luckily there are a zillion other universes—most of them stupid, of course—for all those unfortunate souls to center on. We don’t really need to worry about all of them turning to skateboarding like we have. Instead they’ll coach sports, run for office, score standardized tests, design eyeglasses, or whatever. And as history tells us, they’ll just keep on doing what they’re doing, right where they are, spinning their own cosmos in rapidly increasing circles.

And to keep everything all balanced, we’ll just keep spinning out over here with this skateboarding craze. Knowing everything I know, especially that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing or what the hell I’m talking about—I really do think that it’s our best option.