Finding inspiration in old, yet familiar places.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the above image was nearly the first I came across when attempting to find visual accompaniment for today’s title.
A bird truly can never stray too far from the color of its own feathers.
The direction I’ll attempt to take this, I’ll preface with a short history lesson. It was some time in 1982 when I first discovered the joys of riding a skateboard.
I recall a year prior, finding an issue of Action Now Magazine and though at the time I was truly enthralled in a wild romance with BMX, there was something that drew me to a board with four wheels attached.
I knew nothing of the culture, or even what in that era passed as technology. All I knew was that I wanted to do it, and before long my friend Craig gave me my first, which I still have in my possession;
Within months I upgraded to an entry level Santa Cruz deck (the ‘Jammer’) with its boring graphics, some lime green wheels and no concave whatsoever.
Being that I had no idea what was actually happening out in the world, or that there was even a skateboard scene that existed at all (growing up in the mountains, with no knowledge of anything beyond my little town, short of the very rare glimpse of Action Now, or later, Thrasher left me fairly well to my own devices.)
Soon enough my friend Pete returned home from a visit to his grandparents in Flagstaff, and with him he brought a brand new Vision Gator board with white Gullwing trucks, and black and blue combo B-52s. My mind was blown, and from that point forward, I devoured anything I could get related to skateboarding.
Through skateboarding I discovered punk rock, and zines, and DIY culture, freedom of individual expression, and artistic inspiration, and eventually, developed nearly every single building block that helped form me into the person I am today.
Truly, I owe it an incalculable debt of gratitude.
Fast forward a decade, and I was still charging pretty hard, while artistically flirting with the industry side of things;
Just shortly after moving to California however, I discovered mountain biking.
For some reason the two disciplines went very much hand in hand for not only me, but for a handful of other skateboarders I knew in the area, Jon Suzuki being one in particular.
And Jon now;
Of course for a good number of us, mountain biking made way for cyclocross, and suddenly another nearly decade and a half passed, and with it, the recent inclusion of a huge contingent of people who transitioned from skateboarding, to fixed gears, and then to cyclocross.
My appreciation for skateboarding has never strayed. I continued to read the magazines and watch the videos, and have kept close tabs on what was happening in the world that used to occupy my every waking moment. Occasionally I would even venture out for a session just to hear the sound of barking trucks, as they barged across the lip of a painted curb. To my lizard brain, like tires rolling across dirt, this sound is akin to a song;
But something has taken place in that lizard brain of mine over the last year and a half. My appreciation has developed into a full blown desire to move my body in a different way than pedaling provides. I go to sleep thinking about skateboarding and I wake up thinking about it as well. My fear of injury has made way to ways of creatively avoiding it.
So after pulling out my haggard old board recently;
I decided that the time was finally upon me to put up or shut up, and against my better judgment purchased my first new deck in at least twelve years;
I’m a forty-four year old with the body of a forty-one year old, but with wrists of a fifty-eight year old and the drive of a fifteen year old.
What could possibly go wrong?
As my old friend JTHD recently stated on my Instagram feed;
“Skateboarding is the giving tree. A first love. Don’t get greedy with it and it’s always there for you. Unlike bicycles. Bicycling is a cruel bitch mistress that taunts and belittles and makes you suffer for her.”
Another favorite thing I’ve read that’s spent its fair share of time echoing in my head goes something like this;
“You didn’t quit skateboarding because you got old. You got old because you quit skateboarding.”
Wise words indeed, and I hope this prose serves as a mantra to me as I regain my chops, and roll on either two wheels, or four into forever;
If not, I’ll always have the bottle.
ha love it ,,, you know where I stand on the subject,, as i stare into the face of my fortyfirst year,, I keep having to remind my self that gravity works,, The smiles that come from rolling the four wheels are all around,, and when I see my 10year old playing air guitar and grinding away it only proves my point>>> I am Future Primitive and I skate to Live..<<
Nice one Stevil. Having grown up in the sticks of South Dakota (on a gravel road), I never had a skateboard as owning one there was akin to owning a sled in Phoenix. But I had an appreciation for the skateboard culture that permeated through the BMX landscape of the day (and vice versa). I love being a 44 year old (almost) that still rocks Vans to work. And I too bought my first new deck in over a decade and a half this year, although mine is intended for sliding down snowy slopes. Here’s to living the sports/lifestyles we love, even if it is from the back of the pack.
this may have been my favorite post of yours in 2015.
very well done. my skateboard makes its run to the mailbox, but I have happily ridden the new local parks on my mtb…
good on you.
Fatmarc and I transitioned out of skateboarding and onto mtn bikes together and I still miss it dearly! Outside of the handrails–those, and all the failed attempts, I curse every morning as I pry myself out of bed…
Matt Card, you missed the old man skate session in College Park this weekend! For the record, Jason Farrell can still crush on a skateboard and on guitar.
Once you possess the aggressive viewpoint (I cannot think of a more snappy name for it) you will always have it. It began for me with surfing in 5th grade, then skateboarding and finally cycling. You look for lines everywhere and always wonder what it would be like to ride something. I still have my last skateboard, a beat to shit ’89 Alva. Nonetheless, my rad-getting now exists on my bikes and in my thoughts.
I don’t drink and I ride bikes with gears so it is a wonder what appeals to me about your blogage and this post pretty much sums it up. Long time rider and skater in hibernation but everytime I step on a board, it feels like home. So familiar and never foreign, the simple feeling of cruising down a hill is like none other.
Now I want a skateboard for Christmas.
I spent my formative years on the Navajo Reservation. No TV. One magazine rack at the Basha’s. One Mormon radio station.
We had skateboards just like we had bikes and Tonka trucks. They were toys. We played with them.Doing a “trick” to us was rolling down the stairs at school, or dropping off the loading dock behind the grocery store. We had no idea what a half pipe was, let alone an ollie.
Then, a friend came back from Phoenix with a copy of a skateboard mag, and the top of my head lifted clean off my skull. I had no idea… We lost ourselves in it for years. I never had any skill, but I loved it.
Today? I’m in the midst of building a website for a buddy who is opening his own skate shop. 42 years old, and I too am getting sucked back in.
Punk rock is as punk rock does,
Another solid one my man. I have no skill in anything I do. Surfing skating cycling or music. All I have is the love of doing it and that’s enough for me.
Stevil – Thanks for that. It hit on everything I have ever known about skateboarding. It’s the giving tree, for sure. At 44, I bought my first new deck in two decades this past summer. It was transformative. Jay
I can confirm that ACTION NOW! changed the life of at least one punk kid in the Bismarck, ND public library, circa 1980…
Awesome post. I had no idea that we’re the same age – 44 – but I did know we had similar upbringings, as evidenced by the prose in this post. Now I too have to dust off my deck and get busy. It’s been a while, but like you said, it’s always feel natural, plus there are three great skateparks within minutes of my front door. Damn you.
I’m always stoked to see members of the board-riding community that have transitioned to cycling. Coming from the surfing community on the U.S. east coast the attrition rate among adults is high. Jobs, not-so-significant others, commuting, tiny swell windows that produce a scant two hours of ridable surf(usually when you’re at work) all conspire to push you out the door to ride two wheels-or four. Cycling is indeed a harsh mistress, but she’s not the hit it and quit it whore that surfing is. Thankfully we have the never ending black ribbon of tarmac, singletrack, or that chunk of wood with wheels to fall back on.
lance makes me feel young..not that I can do much but he re-fills my ball sack..which is good for everyone! Cheers!
some dope bords too.
I really miss skating, but this old body just won’t let me do it anymore!
Now I do cyclocross, and it’s so much easier on your body, not!
Best post of 2014. *applause* Gonna bookmark this in case I ever feel like giving up on the “aggressive viewpoint” as Dr. Ray put it. “You didn’t quit skateboarding because you got old. You got old because you quit skateboarding.” Truer words never spoken.
I’m old enough to remember clay wheels and the joy that were Cadillac Wheels that let you roll over tiny pebbles that would otherwise result rapid de-fleshing and orthopedic disaster. Now after 30+ year layoff I’m back on a longboard and trying to recapture just a little of the glory of bandit arroyo riding of the 70’s.
So i guess its not so weird that ive been eyeballing skateboards every time im in a store that sells one. That and all the old Propagandhi albums that have been gettng so much ipod time lately…
Gordon&Smith, kryptonics, Tracker full trucks. If you ever want to see one of the pool covers for Del Mar, let me know. Blast from the past, thanks. Wonderful how we have all grown from four, to two wheels.
Thank you for expressing my life for the past 30 years. Well done! I always found freedom on a skateboard when I was young. I would play Motörhead on a discman and just go. Now I play Motörhead on an iPod and do the same on my bike. Couldn’t agree more with the idea that skateboarding/punk rock made me who I am today. Excellent post Stevil!!
I’m 56 in just dayz and it’s been said “in my teens I was called immature. Now it’s called youthful enthusiasm.”
Yesterday a week ago after a ride around these amazing Downtown Trails we met up with some friends for beers. One guy had a little crash rash. When asked what part of the trail he got it on he replies, “in front of my house on my skateboard.” Then continued, “I haven’t fallen off my board in 20 years.”
Also a guy in his 50’s
In ’75 a bunch of us built a “vert ramp” at the end of a buddies downhill drive way and rode it until it fell down.
There were others we rode but none were like that one, that first one.
Yeah! The skate bug always bites again. Late in my late 30s I became friends with a woman my age who also grew up skating. Kids at the parks thought we were other other kids’ moms — which we were literally and figuratively. Big Momma and I eventually tired of frequent slamming on hard surfaces and I went back to pedaling as my primary thing. But I still perk up at the sound of polyurethane rolling down the sidewalk and see the paved topography for it’s skate-shredabilty. (maybe wear the wrist guards this time around)
Great post. As much as riding a bike is my favorite thing in the world these days, skateboarding (in tandem with punk rock) was always more exciting. In the early 80s I hated BMXers and heavy metal so much, it was hard to embrace any type of cycling even a decade later. One playful little crack: That the G&S isn’t broken in half, I wonder if you were a bit of a poseur. Skate tough or go home!
There wasn’t much opportunity to break it in our 35″x35″ paved garage where I just kinda rolled around in circles, or the deck, where I learned fakie 180s. Poseur? Maybe. Or just a little kid finding his way.
If you are digging into SS to tickle his fancy, I approve. Having chased him around grocery store parking lots and ditches, where ever there was concrete, a poseur he was not. A menace? Certainly!
I’m glad to see you get amped to get back out there. It’s takes some time to get your sea legs back, but it happens. I’m not that far behind you in age and regularly skate with guys over 40 and 50. I just got back on a year or so ago after taking a 10 solid years off. It’s been a god damned blast. Mtb’n, cx, and the such has morphed how I approach skating. Actually, a few of us Hodala/Suck It guys are crochety skaters who have taken it back up. Meyers, Lawrence, Bart are down to roll. The next time your in Seattle you should hit Judkins Park. It’s a super good little park near Sally’s and ideal for getting your shred back(while having some beers).
that jay adams quote punched me in the face the first time i read it. made me want to spread it like a gospel. never stop shreddin. whichever set of wheels you’re on.
I did the exact same thing this year: I’m coming up on 37 and bought my first board (the Flip Lance Mountain Brigadier) in probably 18 years. I’m loving it, and my two-year old is super into it, too.
So far my wife hasn’t divorced me.
Sweet deck: http://socalskateshop.com/images/products/large_48347_Flip_LanceMountain_Brigadier_BabyBlue_BLG.jpg
At nearly 40 I have found myself saying things like “I used to be able to…” and courtesy of years bruises, breaks and scrapes nearly every move I make is now accompanied with a grunt or groan. I hung up my skateboard years ago, and stopped racing bmx when I was 24. I recently moved to a new house with a skate park around the corner and a bmx track about 1km away from which I can hear the commentary on Tuesday race nights.
I bought a new board and dusted of my 24″ cruiser, now my day starts with a 30min roll around the park before work or some laps of the track on my bike.
It’s nice to give “getting old” a slap in the face, not to mention it’s so much fun!
Wow, you really struck a nerve on this one. Go for it. I may go as well! At 46 i got nothin to lose, but some flesh.
Nice but growing up in one of your most hated place we just went downhill fast (Vail in the early 1980’s). We could drive a car up and go down as fast as we wanted to. No long boards, just your regular sized board. Awesome to see the looks on bike riders face when you passed them. Thanks for the memories. I owe you 5 bucks for shipping socks. Will include that on the next order.
Nobody works harder for less apparent success than skaters. Hours and hours go into a decent Ollie for some of us. I’m regretting selling my old G&S Neil Blender to a chump when I left flat California for hilly Georgia. We have a skatepark too….
Not really a chump just not somebody who probably appreciated what they got…
JTHD’s got a lot to offer but you gotta push back a little because otherwise he’ll spend 4 hours in Macy’s with a $50 gift card trying to buy 4 pairs of underpants and and some old man slippers.
True story. Totally worth it.
Man I miss Crystal & JTHD soooooo bad.