A Midwest farmer, upon emerging from his storm cellar after a brush with a springtime twister, witnessed a local news team skidding their mud-covered van into the middle of his front yard.
In the post-cyclone calm, he stood watching as reporter and cameraman hastily pulled their equipment from the vehicle and slid over the soft earth to where he was standing—the very spot his home of fifty-odd years had occupied before being consumed by the passing storm.
“Sir,” the reporter started out, manically flipping through his notes, “can you tell us, please, what do you remember most about the tornado?”
The homesteader removed his cap, scratched his head, and after a few moments of surveying the area, thoughtfully replied, “Well, I’d have to say it was the wind.”
Gazing around skateboarding, it can be hard to see exactly what is going on—mostly because of the sheer magnitude of it all. Thanks to the relatively low age of the skateboarding phenomenon, and the relatively low age of the people who’ve chosen to make themselves part of it, every single thing changes every single day. Not just the ins, outs, and unmentionables of commercial pursuits; not just societal boundaries tumbling, being erected, and tumbling again; and not just the footwork, legwork, backwork, and headwork that constitutes the act of skateboarding. I’m talking about the other stuff—the peripheral minutia that acts as mortar for all those big bricks, big ideas, and oft-used metaphors.
Watching what we all do, it’s easy to see the twenty-step program of tre flips and kicky front boards. Viewing the team transfers and contract confers of professional poster boys is as quick and simple as a debit-card transaction. And the reaction to hundreds upon thousands of parks sprouting up while tens of thousands of spots are rendered “proofed” by a non-skating populace is easily gauged.
Would you look at the time? Brad Hendrickson, ten-bell back tail. Photo: Sam McGuire
But even with all that ease and convenience, seeing and then knowing what skateboarding really is can be slightly less obvious.
If I may be so bold … skateboarding really seems to be held together in the turbulence of the observable. Those breezy minutes spent not skateboarding—on the way to ride a stormy pool, getting to-go food on the blustery push home from a downtown sesh, or making those drafty steps up to the deck of a ramp. The tiny moments between so-called events are really what make skateboarding real—a nod to a friend easily rivaling a bolts-on stomp of any move—and put the tornadic gossip of a new mall shop or an old sponsor into their proper pecking order.
In looking for answers, don’t forget that life (as they say) is in the living. And those wee, airy points that we barely take note of are actually the most comprehensible—proof in their adhesive properties and our feigned ignorance of their windproof bonds.