A few years ago my friends over at Lakai came up with a t-shirt that said: Skateboarding is So Hot Right Now! And at the time it was quite appropriate. Skateboarding was EVERYWHERE; from TV commercials to print ads for JCPenney. But just a few short years later skateboarding has gone from virgin to town whore with a gaping butthole. And Lakai’s phrase needs some updating. I'm thinking it should be Skateboarding is So Gay Right Now.
I just flew in from renting myself out to the X-Games and offering my strong “insight” into skateboarding, and boy are my arms tired. The X-Games are what the X-Games are and after 15 years of them I’ve grown to accept it and feel happy that guys like Paul Rodriguez can make $50,000 (more than a family in Detroit for an entire year) for a Saturday of Skateboarding.
And for as many problems as I’ve had with the X-Games over the years (even this year when they wouldn’t let my friend Jim Thiebaud and his ten-year-old son, Jack, from DLX get passes into the contest despite a bunch of his riders being in the contest--he had to buy nosebleed seats just to watch it), I was surprised that my biggest source of aggravation came from within skateboarding, from a longtime contest organizer called World Cup Skateboarding. World Cup has been the self-appointed governing contest organizer since 1994, long before many current skateboarders were even born.
The heads of World Cup are two senior citizens named Don and Danielle Bostick. I don’t know them at all, but they seem like very nice people; if he were my grandfather I’d happily pull his finger and I’m sure she can bake a delicious cake. But senior citizens should not be in charge of youth organizations. If you can remember firsthand when we defeated Hitler, chances are you’re going to have a hard time relating to a kid who just found out a young black kid from New Jersey named Ishod Wair just switch-flipped the Love Gap. And as non-skaters, chances are that most of the time you’re not going to have a clue what the hell you’re talking about--or worse yet, who the hell you’re talking to.
And so it happens that this past weekend Grandpa Bostick made a dickhead move that showed his age and pissed me off to no end: he wouldn’t let young Alex Olson skate in the Park Contest because he was ten minutes late due to LA traffic. The contest had just started, they were only into the first heat and he flat-out refused to fit Alex in. I wonder which side he was rooting for back when Hitler was defeated, because this is fucking skateboarding. It’s not meant to be taken that seriously. There are no rules and there’s no fucking clock on the wall. (Maybe he’s just a little sour that Alex’s dad, Steve, who is also pushing senior citizen status, is a whole lot cooler.)
One of the very few things I looked forward to at the X-Games was seeing some of the street guys like Alex and Dennis Busenitz attack the Park Contest, but due to Alex being late and another World Cup Blunder of bumming Dennis out (he was invited only to the Park Contest and not to the Street Contest), I didn’t get to see either. The funniest was when other skaters didn’t show up an hour before the Street Contest was starting, and I watched contest organizers rallying to fill spots. They kept asking, “Is Dennis here? Would he want to skate street?” No bro. He didn’t come. You should have asked him in the first fucking place, guy.
If I had never organized a contest in my life I wouldn’t be so quick to judge, but as the guy who helps get all the riders organized for the NYC Red Bull Mini Mania Contest each year, I know that shit happens and just to roll with it. Guys show up late. Guys wake up late. Sometimes guys send their friends to skate for them. Hell, this year John "The Man" Reeves came and asked if he could skate. Is he in the same league as Mike Mo? No. But who doesn’t love them some John Reeves? So I let him skate. IT’S FUCKING SKATEBOARDING. We all got into it because there were no fucking rules.
I asked my buddy Ryan Clements who heads up Spotlight Productions what he would do in a situation of a guy showing up late to one of their contests and he simply said, “We’re in the customer service business. We're skateboarders running events in the way that we always wanted them run, even from way back when we skated in them. We would have got Alex Olson into the contest.”
I think we can all agree that a lot of the big corporate leeches that are getting into skateboarding right now are gay. And as my friend, Robin Fleming, Vans’
Skate Marketing Manager pointed out, “Skateboarding is completely fucking gay, and not in the lighthearted, stylish, manfucking way either. It’s just fucking gay.” (It’s pretty easy to see from the photos above just how gay it is: look at all the fake graffiti that was painted all over the street course.)
But skateboarding at its purest is a beautiful thing. I owe every bit of happiness, my home, and my family to the life skateboarding has given me. So if you’re gonna squeeze a check out of it as a contest organizer you better remember it’s a young man’s game and the most important rule is it’s ALL about the skaters, we run the nut house. It’s not about the clock on the wall, it’s not about the X-Games who hired you. It’s about the skaters. So tread lightly, grandpa.