People That Know: A Manifesto

The name of this blog comes from a throwaway comment Andrew Reynolds made in a segment he did with The Berrics[1]. In the midst of flipping through screen shots on his phone, he describes the way he analyzes the foot placement of other skaters while trying to learn a new trick. He’s fully nerding-out, breaking down how you’re supposed to place your foot, and how far he currently is from doing it correctly. He then seems to realize how much he’s harping on the point, drops it and swiftly moves on to another topic. The final, rushed comment he makes on the matter is, “People that know will know, people that don’t…it doesn’t matter.”

When I got my first Toy Machine[2] in 1999 at age twelve, skateboarding seemed to be a pretty fringe community. But as you’ve likely noticed, things have changed quite a bit since then.

As a kid, I remember impatiently waiting months to be able to get my hands on a VHS copy of Es’s Menikmati[3] or Flip’s Sorry[4]. Today, the deluge of professional quality video content I can access online and through social media is practically limitless.

When some of my friends started skating Nikes in the early 2000’s, I scoffed and made fun of them like the sanctimonious jerk of a teenager I was at the time. My black and white adolescent mind had no room for “posers,” essentially anyone or anything I perceived to be intruding on skate culture from the outside. But today, at least at the moment, I’m skating Busenitz’s Adidas shoe[5]. Why? Because I still skate, I still wear shoes, and after I calmed down a bit and actually tried them on, I realized they’re quite possibly the most comfortable skate shoe I’ve ever had.

I grew up skating in Green Bay, Wisconsin. For a city with a population of only 105,000, it still managed to support an authentic, local skate shop. For many years, Surfin’ Bird[6] invested time, energy and money into the local skate scene. They put on small contests, hosted demos, sponsored the best local skaters and made local skate videos. Most importantly, the shop was owned and operated by actual skaters who understood skateboarding. Today, skater-owned shops are simply getting crushed under the boot of pseudo-skate shops in malls that demonstrate little to no genuine interest in supporting small, local skate scenes in the way Surfin’ Bird used to.

As much as many of us may feel a visceral aversion to it, the truth is that just like everything else of significance in life, skateboarding has and will continue to evolve over time. This reality certainly brings about new challenges, but it brings about new opportunities as well.

It seems to me that in order to best navigate this moment, we will have to find a way to approach the rapid changes in skateboarding in a way that is open to and inclusive of new faces and logos, while simultaneously ensuring that the core essence of skate culture is preserved.

This blog is written for people who, like me, were drawn to skateboarding explicitly because of its unrefined and slightly lawless culture. It’s for those I believe Reynolds was referring to when he referenced the “people that know.” Simply put, it’s written for skaters who actually skateboard. And more specifically, it’s for skaters who are looking for a skate website with a little less flash, and a little more substance.

I’m doing this in part because, as I get older, I’m finding myself missing some of the more reflective elements of skate culture.

As a kid, I had subscriptions to five separate physical skate magazines[7]. I ripped out my favorite shots and plastered them all over my bedroom walls. But I actually read the articles too. Growing up in a place so geographically far removed from the skate industry, it was an absolute thrill to consume the behind the scenes elements of skate culture that I would never have had a window into otherwise.

In short, I love skateboarding on a level that exceeds my ability to rationally justify it.

Thinking and writing about skateboarding puts me in a positive mental health space. And as our world seems to become a bit scarier and less predictable day[8] by day[9], I’ve decided I want to devote as much of my cognitive resources as possible to something that I know brings me joy for its own sake.

It occurred to me that creating this blog will also serve as a way for me to become a better writer, a skill I want to continue to develop. More importantly, it will also be an exciting way for me to connect with other like-minded skaters all across our worldwide tribe.

For the next year, I plan to release a few new essays each month on skateboarding. If you dig what you see, please support it by sharing it in whatever way works best for you.

Thank you and check back soon for an essay titled Chicken is Not a Vegetable, Skateboarding is Not a Sport.

-Jordan, October 24, 2017

[1] http://theberrics.com/scroll-your-roll-andrew-reynolds/

[2]https://shop.tumyeto.com/toy-machine-devil-cat-8-375-logo-deck.html#.Wd5F3xNSzBI

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQnXa2rg58Y

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqstOhGpYPc

[5] http://www.adidas.com/us/busenitz-shoes

[6] http://surfinbirdskateshop.com/

[7] Transworld, Thrasher, Slap, Skateboarder and The Skateboard Mag

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/podcasts/the-daily/north-korea.html

[9] https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/defending-the-republic

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