If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery but flattery is considered most insincere, then there really may be nowhere to turn—no hope for this world we’ve screeded and hammered and shaped for our own shredding devices.
It’s a tough call, to be sure. On one hand we’re expected, by our own definitions, to be independent and original to a fault. But even the Associated Locksmiths of America, that last bastion of truth in a world of protective eyewear and well-stocked carabiners, knows “not effective” protection when they see it. “Do Not Duplicate” stamped onto a brass key misses the mark on a couple fronts: (1) it provides a false sense of security, and (2) fuck you, I’ll duplicate whatever the hell I want to duplicate.
But 60 years into building this childish fortress called skateboarding, the halls seem hallowed enough that when one of our ranks steps out of line, steps off base, or steps lightly, we’re the first to stomp them back into the conservative floorboards, insisting that we all walk in lock step—8” to 8.5”, 52s, maple and glue, not too tight, not too loose, right cities, right drinks, right chemistry—and please, just stand there as part of the background so that no one is silhouetted too sharply or throws too dark of a shadow. It’s your duty, soldier.
Well, shit. Now what?
Now anything, that’s what.
This damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t state of affairs is a sure sign that someone, somewhere is acting like a complete idiot. “Yeah!” you say. “Those dudes suck.” Well, unfortunately, those dudes are us, dudes. We’ve met the enemy and the enemy is way too awesome.
And so we teeter on the fine line between self-imposed conformity and unripe tradition, pausing long enough that our once-rare keys are now being duplicated with a quickness. These are big days, my brothers and sisters. These are bright lights. These are shiny objects. Maybe it’s times like these when simple advice would serve us better than some kind of bro law from the Wayfarered multitudes.
So we humbly present you with a few keys to skateboard life maintenance:
Key 1. Find out what you like.
This can be harder than it sounds. But when a key fits, it’ll open stuff for you right away. Tricks, spots, friends, and the ease with which you unlock them will get you in the door, but there will always be stuff that can’t, won’t, and don’t come easy—this is skateboarding, after all. What can look as natural as a Reynolds frontside flip or a Busenitz tailslide will surely feel awkward to you at first, but by emulating (not imitating) what others do, you’ll develop your own style and avoid the pitfalls of the talented-but-clueless copycat.
Key 2. Do what you like.
You love twenty-stairs? They’re all you. Smith grinds? Might as well lock them in. Ledges? Find them, build them, do your dance. By going with what you know and knowing what you like, you’ll keep adding jingle to your keychain as opposed to losing your keys somewhere and getting locked out of your apartment.
Key 3. Do what you like again.
After you’ve done something a million times and liked it almost as many, you’re going to find that your old keys now open doors that were previously bolted shut. Got lien to tails in your sleep? Well, crails and Madonnas and creepers and sweepers are right through these doors, sir. 50-50s on lock (so to speak)? Five-0s, feebles, lipslides, and more are free for the taking. It’s master-key syndrome and funny enough; it’s typically not the key that’s distinctive, but the locks that hold that characteristic. Yeah, buddy. Who needs a hug?
Key 4. Get weird.
Push mongo all day. Ride big wheels. Learn a trick you know you don’t like. Ask a child for advice about something adult-ish. Ask an adult for advice about something childish. Don’t get serious for too long, but don’t get stupid for too long, either. Freak yourself out.
These are strange times for friends, Romans, and countrymen—no one can really be blamed for not lending an ear. But time—even bizarre time—never stops. We will continue to be duped, seduced, appropriated, and driven all over the map if we just hand the keys over and forget that this isn’t a middle-of-the-road endeavor.
Skateboarding is too hot to handle. Skateboarding is fucked. Skateboarding is worthless. And skateboarding is a zillion other different things. Let’s use our keys to tear open boxes, scratch doors, pop the lids off, and keep doing whatever unknown stuff happens after that. ’Cause if we don’t know what’s next, nobody else will know what’s next, either.