Chapter 1: ‘The enduring and addictive nature of skateboarding’
‘By September 1991, after the rather unexpected and rapid demise of the insular ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ I’d previously shared with my bro’ Gutsy and the Sutton Skaters during the last few years of secondary school, along the imperceptible but rapidly advancing tide of my life, a new chapter as a decided teenager and mature youth suddenly began; a chapter in which skateboarding (given its addictive nature and my powerful ‘unconscious emotive hook’ into the activity) would again play a fundamental and enduring role, despite my level-best conscious efforts to move on in my life. In keeping with moving on, I chose to go to college in the hope of academic success acting as a springboard to brighter prospects in the form of ‘a career’ in the wider world and as an apparent positive steppingstone into my eventual transition into an adult. However, along with most teenagers fresh out of secondary school, exactly what those positive prospects were in actual reality, I had no clue of whatsoever, only vague ideas and grand aspirations of ‘what might be possible’ or that ‘the world is full of exciting opportunities; right?’ More crucially, a gaping hole existed in my understanding of how rational knowledge (as relentlessly endorsed through ‘conventional education’) and the real world of work actually related; a fundamental flaw in my pursuit of ‘a career’ which alongside my persistent ‘divine unconscious shadows’ eventually proved to be the complete undoing of my conscious efforts to progress in my life, and eventually sent me ‘backtracking in search of brotherhood and skateboarding’…’
‘I didn’t know anyone in the classes I attended during the day and generally just sat quietly on my own, whilst listening to seemingly never-ending lectures, whereby ‘teachers’ gave us the run-down on the courses we’d be attending. It was a rather ‘cool’ feeling to be completely anonymous and something of a novelty, although somewhat unnerving at the same time. Despite my sporting and academic intentions at college, given my enduring, but subtle ‘unconscious emotive skateboarding hook’ which manifested consciously as searching for a new ‘skateboarding brotherhood’ to become a member of, finding the skate park and ramp was of course my main mission at some point in the day. Accordingly, and despite having a time-table full of ‘introductory classes’ to attend, during a break in the middle of the afternoon, I decided to go for a look around instead of remaining on college grounds regardless if that made me late for class. Such behaviour was again the manifestation of an unconscious aspect of me that was not fully in accordance with the conventional sports and academic subjects I’d chosen to pursue at college and instead, wanted to pursue skateboarding as before, in a search of escapism, freedom, identity, belonging, channelling and more, to the point that skating would again become more important than anything else in my life. As with primary and secondary school previously, this very fact of unconsciously ‘rubbing against the grain and inner antagonism against convention’ set the scene for turmoil to soon unfold in my college ventures, because I couldn’t help but keep engaging with my unconscious yearnings given their power. Indeed, such events were already set in motion; a fact I was quite oblivious to given the nature of our ‘divine denial, amnesia and unconsciousness’ that overlooks the revolving timeline we are all unconsciously journeying upon. For, ‘everything that has, is, and will unfold, has already actually unfolded, even before it manifests; all events are thereby simply waiting for us to engage with them, by way of our divine will’.’
‘In terms of skateboarding, the only thing I’d ever heard about Grantham was that apparently it had a large ramp situated in some kind of skate park which was reputed to be pretty ‘sick,’ and a ‘solid,’ if small, skate scene; other than this ‘sketchy’ information, I knew nothing whatsoever of the area, skaters or skate scene there at all. Nevertheless, given my strong tendency for daydreaming and imagination, I often fantasized about exactly what the Grantham skate scene would be like; how I’d perhaps easily find a new close bro and even, fit into a new ‘skateboarding brotherhood’ just as before in Mablethorpe and Sutton? At the time, I had no concept whatsoever of the unique nature of the days I’d shared with my former bro’s and that in reality, they were impossible to ever replicate again, in any guise. Nevertheless, as with most teenagers, I lived in a ‘youth and abundant energy lasts forever world’ and merrily carried on with my unconsciously driven ‘easy to replicate again’ ways. I guess it’s true to say that as ever, and in my usually overly optimistic and enthusiastic manner, I had high hopes of skateboarding at college continuing on as a mainstay of my time, and dearly hoped I’d advance my ‘level’ back to a decent standard, with visions in my head of ollying down huge flights of stairs and launching myself down massive handrails in and around Grantham at some point, whilst my new found bro’s watched on and sessioned with me; yeah! However, as ever, my overly positivistic and ethereal daydreams largely overlooked ‘actual reality’. I’d gone to college to study sport and academic subjects, not skateboarding. I’d soon find that these disciplines (particularly the former) didn’t easily tolerate ‘the alternative’ activity of skateboarding or skaters themselves. A rather harsh reality that alongside my ‘unconscious shadows,’ eventually proved to be the source of me privately experiencing social disaffection and alienation to levels that I’d previously, never imagined possible; a reality again hidden from the people closest to me at every level, as I misguidedly embodied the ‘boys don’t cry’ motto, as I reluctantly grappled with social expectations and inexplicably, antagonistically unconsciously defied ‘academic institutionalism’.’
‘…the solitary walk to and from college was just that made worse by the fact that the first mile or so was along an extremely busy major road packed to the rafters with toxic fume producing cars in the morning, as sombre looking commuters made their way into work each day next to a smoking chicken factory that filled the air with a terrible ‘Kentucky fried chicken’ stench. As a sixteen year old teenager with a head full of idealistic dreams to pursue that equated to what life was really all about, I couldn’t understand the madness of it all and even felt a distinct sense of ‘not belonging to that awful world’. A world I could clearly see was a slow death, not a life of any kind, reflected to me by the sombre and expressionless faces of the people driving the cars I privately observed. I even defiantly swore that: ‘I never want to end up trapped like them’. Little did I know how easy it is to ‘end up trapped like them,’ and that life has an unconscious way of making manifest the very things I defied and denied, and that idealistic daydreams don’t necessarily always equate to reality in many people’s cases, given the almost overwhelming social pressures placed upon people to ‘go along,’ ‘do the right thing,’ ‘get in reality,’ ‘grow up’ and ‘conform to normality’.’
‘And so, for the duration of the first term through to Christmas 1991, my daily routine consisted of getting up at 6.45am, getting showered, dressed and eating breakfast with Dave (if he could even be arsed to get out of bed that was) and then heading out of the door by 7.45am to walk the hour or so to the college. Hilariously, breakfast time and our evening meal became something of a daily event surrounded by much humour and horror. Mr and Mrs Lewis had three dogs that were allowed to roam around the kitchen whilst they prepared food. Invariably, upon serving breakfast and our evening meal, it was often a case of discreetly picking dog-hairs out of it whilst avoiding being seen doing so, as after serving the food, Mr Lewis in his friendly and likeable manner, used to like chatting with Dave and I whilst we munched (or picked) away; nice! Moreover, Mrs Lewis was often horror stricken if we picked at, grumbled about, or left any food at all, and sometimes even verbally scolded us for doing so. Needless to say, it was sometimes an unpleasant situation about to fill our mouths with food and spying a big black dog-hair right in the middle of it, but somewhat forced to have to do so under the decided pressure of having to eat everything on your plate, regardless of whether you wanted to or not! And so, inevitably Dave and I soon devised ways to deal with food we didn’t like without getting caught by the lady-in-doors. A prime example was the: ‘quick, hide it in the carrier-bag under the table trick’. Indeed, food we disliked, we’d somehow hide under the table in our pockets in a plastic carrier-bag we’d smuggle down to dinner, and then throw it in the bin on the walk into college in the morning!’
‘Pretty much for the whole of the first term at college, Dave, Oggy and I, all hung around together and became quite ‘solid’ all told which brought our collective inherent comical mischievousness right to the forefront. For the most part, we were all equally gifted at sport (although Oggy was in a totally different league to everyone else in terms of strength exercises and weight-trainiunng) and we had some great laughs together, which unfortunately landed us in ‘heat’ with the sports lecturers and marked us out as ‘trouble’ or mischievous. As well as being admittedly collectively likeably ‘cheeky’ and somewhat nonchalant, we often truanted classes to go weight-training or we ambled into town instead. Alongside vividly filling Dave and I in on all the intimate details of his sex-life with his girlfriend on a daily basis, Oggy in particular, often played pranks on the lecturers and revelled in such behaviour as setting his own farts alight with a handheld lighter he carried, or showering after ‘games’ and then prancing around completely naked for everyone to see his manhood, which he pretty much waved in everyone’s face being particularly well-endowed, or he played pranks on classmates and lecturers in class to ‘upset the apple cart for kicks’. Sometimes these ‘pranks’ were a source of much laughter, other times not so if one of us ended up in trouble as a consequence.’
‘The ‘alternative,’ ‘Grunge,’ ‘indie,’ and ‘Shoegaze’ music scenes, were ‘right on time’ as well. Musically, in terms of rebellion and discontent against the all-out, bloated excesses of the 1980’s, a similar thing happened in the early 1990’s, as with vertical ramp riding and street skateboarding. In terms of music, the 1980’s mainstream had increasingly been about huge, commercialised, ‘slick’ production Pop at almost every level, and by the end of the decade an underground swell of dissatisfaction about the situation had come to the boil, as major record labels had strangled the music industry into submission for the purposes of profit alone. Although a truly independent scene existed in the UK in the early-mid 1980’s, ruled by amongst others, The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division and The Fall, which acted as a precedent of the Shoegazing guitar scene that was to follow in the early nineties, like skateboarding, the ‘alternative’ musical medium of ‘indie’ was still a world completely diametrically opposed to the ‘mainstream’ at the time. And so, by the very early 1990’s, as an alternative rally call against perceived major label domination, independent record labels appeared, who, in contrast to the pop-music-mainstream, often signed diverse and guitar driven bands that were largely unknown. Perhaps the most obvious example and widely coveted independent record label here in the UK was Creation Records.’
‘But before such events privately unfolded, I began with simple ‘skateboard necessities’. One of the first conscious decisions I made was to start skating into college every Friday no matter what the weather was like, and take my deck home on the weekends hoping that skaters at college would thereby recognise me as one of them. Much to my disappointment, surprise and even bewilderment, by the end of 1991 I was hardly skating at all, with college and obligatory homework, working for money at the weekend and my relationship with George consuming almost all of my spare-time. The fantasy of ‘full-on skating’ when starting a new college that I’d entertained at the end of the summer of ’91, was proving to be exactly that; nothing but an idealistic delusion and hope and not rooted in physical reality. About the most skating I was actually doing was through reading my regular skate magazines, gazing at my board, daydreaming over past, fond ‘escapist skateboarding memories’ or sometimes cruising around Gunerby Hill foot in a solitary fashion; but that was about all.’
‘…One of the first concrete decisions I made relating to effecting a full-on transformation back into a skater, was to shelve my now badly worn ‘ND Tagger’ and buy myself a new and up-to-date board at the tail end of 1991 (a New Deal, Andy Howell, ‘Howell World’ model). I thought the board had the most ‘funky’ graphic I’d ever seen on a skateboard deck before and was a serious departure from anything else on the market at the time. I was equally swayed by the fact that hilariously, I thought Andy Howell was the ‘main man’ behind the whole New Deal skateboard company which I liked more than any other at the time, being such a fresh and innovative team. I’d also read in skate mag’s about the many different and innovative approaches to deck construction that New Deal (or really Schmitt Stix rebranded) were using, and hoped as with my ‘ND Tagger’ it would prove to be a worthwhile and long-lasting investment that didn’t snap (although as ever, this proved to be a delusional fantasy!). Nevertheless, I fell straight back into my old routine of ogling product pages in skate ‘zines, scanning the boards up for review or what other street skaters in the magazine were using. It was clear to my eyes that as ever, the world of skateboarding was continuing upon its rapid transformation at almost every level…’
‘…Whilst I was actively seeking, manufacturing, and somewhat grappling with an unconsciously driven, but now consciously initiated, change in my own life, skateboarding itself mirrored this and was continuing upon its own transitional metamorphosis from vertical ramp riding to street skating at a rapid, and accelerating, pace. Indeed, in January 1992, New Deal’s street skater Justin Girard appeared on an advert practicing a soon to become ‘tramline trick’ of the time (a nollie-pressure-flip) in jeans that looked increasingly large in size, on a board that resembled a giant lozenge in profile, and with a cap on backwards. He looked far more hip-hop to my mind than the old ‘slash dog/punk style’ that had previously ruled in skateboarding, and was in fact a perfect reflection of where street skating was at in the USA and soon to be in the UK; hip-hop fresh in style and attitude, with as many ‘techno flippin’ tricks’ as ya like…’
‘My validity as a skater established and verified as genuine, we walked over to the Art Department at college where he kept his deck during the day (a place I’d previously never been to or even knew existed) and after my eyes popping out of my head at all the amazing artwork and sculptures that littered the classrooms, and all the sweet and beautiful ‘alternative’ female students everywhere (that all seemed to know, smile at, and say ‘hi’ to Jay) we went for a skate on his deck together on college grounds. Jay went first and casually started cruising around. Immediately, I could see that Jay was an a absolute natural at skating (reminding me of the very first time I witnessed Gutsy skate in 1989) having a loose and fluid style that enabled him to land kick-flips, heel-flips, impossibles and 360-flips with ease, as well as a variety of shove-it, pressure-flips and no-comply variations; pretty quickly, I was amazed by his ability. Moreover, as with Gutsy, Jay radiated out a somewhat shy, introverted, humble and quirky personality that belied an artistic and intelligent chap which manifested clearly in his skating ability. In contrast, sadly, when it came to my turn to ride, I felt somewhat embarrassed at my lowly level in comparison to his, as I’d not skated full-time for way too long, my skills weren’t up-to-scratch as they once were, and all the sports and weight-training I did at college had made me seriously muscular and stiff as hell; in truth, Jay looked like a master in comparison to me. Street skating was advancing at such a rapid pace in the very early 1990’s that I was seemingly miles behind in terms of ability and tricks. Other than cruise around, pull some ‘ollies’ and try some lame and bailed attempts at kick-flips and heel-flips, my skills were obviously limited in comparison to Jay’s. Due to all the weight-training I’d been doing at college, I felt stiff, heavy and awkward on his board, and soon realised that I had a lot of catching-up to do in terms of skating…’
‘At the end of my skate into town, upon arriving at the Leisure Centre, I couldn’t see any skaters anywhere, but I still had a good look around in an attempt to find some. The hilarious thing was, I never agreed to meet any skaters that night, but fully expected some to be there! Nevertheless, on the flip-side, I had the place all to myself. As it transpired, the Leisure Centre was only an OK place to skate (particularly in comparison to the paradise of the ‘Ices’ we had on our doorstep back in Sutton). Yeah, it had a car park, but it was quite busy with people ‘coming and going’ all of the time and the surface was not smooth at all, being covered with a lot of loose gravel. Yeah, it had benches, but the run-up was short, the benches were quite high, and there was no serious run-out of bench-slides. Yeah, it had one block, but it was next to a paved slope that people walked down to access the Leisure Centre from the car park and it was only really good for board-sliding on (although, even that wasn’t easy, as the block was angled on its edge and the roll-up was from the dodgy surfaced car park, alongside having to ‘watch out’ for ‘skateboarding scowling’ pedestrians coming-and-going to the Leisure Centre). So, the architectural layout and design of the Leisure Centre was a bit like waving a bone in front of a dog’s face in terms of skateboarding; the obstacles and possibilities were all there, only nigh impossible to properly access in a clear and hassle free manner. However, despite such design-deficiencies, I did practice a few board-slides on the block and on the benches, but found the layout of the area not really satisfying and I even slammed heavily several times whilst attempting board-slides on the block, which again, awoke me to the sometimes harsh realities of skateboarding…’
‘When the momentous day came when I knew the deck would arrive in the post at Mr and Mrs Lewis’s house, the day at college was a long one to say the least, and for the first time in ages, I experienced the same kind of excitement about getting a new board that I did when awaiting my Powell Peralta ‘Trigger Fish’ deck two years before, back in 1990. Needless to say, my day at college passed very slowly and I couldn’t wait to get back to the lodgings to receive my new pride and enjoy. All the way back to Gunerby Hill foot from college, I privately experienced a state of almost overwhelming excitement and joy at the prospect of a new board awaiting me upon returning to the house, to the point where Dave said something to the effect that: ‘Fuckin’ hell Dave, slow down mate; why are you walking home so fast tonight; oh, I get it, you’ve got a new board arriving haven’t you; might of bloody known’ as we walked along and merrily chatted away about everyday stuff in our usual humorous manner together. What’s more, it was my first ever Death Box deck, and given their status as a ruling UK skateboard company, it was something of a unique occasion in my history as a skater, to say the least. I even had delusionary, overly positive visions in my head of the board lasting for an age, grinding it down to nothing, getting some decent wear out of it, and even that I’d buy many more Death Box decks thereafter, having found a company who produced decks that were invincible and lasted an age; is anyone willing to put a safe guess on the reality of what actually happened to the board?’
‘As the spring of 1992 turned into summer and I finished my exams at college, I left the student lodgings and returned back home to Mablethorpe to work at the garage part-time to earn money over the holiday period. At a certain level, I felt a huge sense of relief, escaping college for a while, as by the end of the final term, the Sports Department had started to feel like something of a melting-pot, and petty bickering and back-stabbing had crept into many of the sports crowds behaviour, and I disliked the atmosphere immensely. Moreover, increasingly, I felt like standing on the edge of a football pitch and simply acting like an observer in terms of the cliques at college, and outside of my friendship with Dave, my hidden sense of isolation, alienation and growing disaffection relative to college itself was slowly intensifying, although not openly declared or admitted to anyone. Whilst back in Mablethorpe for the summer of 1992, I worked four and a half days out of seven, with two week days off, and a half-day Sunday. Alongside my ‘still OK together’ relationship with George, during the great majority of my free-time, I went out skating alone or with anyone else who was ‘out and about,’ and over the course of the summer with absolutely no college pressure hanging over me, I became very ingrained in my old skateboarding ways and mentality.’
‘…And so, being completely blind and oblivious to the powerful and unconsciously driven, strained reality that was in fact about to unfold before me, and naively thinking things were ‘going OK hey?’ and ‘could only get better?’ (or at least remain the same) at college and with my renewed dedication to skating, in the autumn of 1992, and as the world of skateboarding entered what I eventually came to regard as an incredibly exciting and pivotal period in its history, I returned to begin a new term at college and undertake some A levels, without a real clue as to where my life was heading in terms of career, or without any long-term aim in mind. Surprisingly, the main thing I actually became focused upon, was exactly how to become a genius technical street skateboarder of all things; although that wasn’t part of the college curriculum, not the reason why I was meant to be there in the first place, and was even eventually partly the source of my increasingly isolated existence and almost overwhelming private sense of alienation and disaffection in the ‘conventional sporting arena’ (and ultimately, daily life itself)…’
Chapter 2: ‘The Time of Technical Street Skaters in Skateboarding’
‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding’
Evolving, eternal, enduring, transitional ‘divine paradox of great perfection’ expressed herein: ‘Pursuing the perceived joy of the light is equally unknowingly pursuing the shadow of grief’ and ‘experiencing the shadow of grief is inevitably to again pursue the joy of the light’.
‘When I returned to Grantham College in September of 1992 to undertake A Levels in my usual, ‘oblivious to exactly what I was doing with my life’ manner, immediately, I was faced with what could only be described as a ‘wind of change’. Equally, again, the repetitious themes of my life, dictated to by my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and associated unconscious perceptions and beliefs I held about the world and my sketchy place within it, were continuously played out like a never-ending drama that began to intensify in nature, and increasingly wore on me to unprecedented levels; even eventually to the point where it privately began to make me feel seriously unwell. That said, in keeping with the divine and enduring truth expressed herein, that: ‘Consciously pursuing the perceived greatness of the light is equally unconsciously pursuing the equal and opposite greatness of the darkness ’ and ‘ within the intense conscious nature of the darkness is already unconsciously the pursuit of the greatness of the light’ the world of skateboarding again came to my saviour as it entered a period which I adored, embraced as best as I could, and simply regarded as a serious ‘head-trip’ at many levels; a period which became known as the ‘phat pants and tiny wheel’ era. But given the indivisible and inseparable nature of the fundamental principles underlying all manifest existence, before we look at ‘the light,’ let us first deal with the perceived ‘darkness’...’
‘My ‘divine unconscious wounding’ existing outside of time, space and form, at the level of the super-conscious aspect of ‘me’ could only seek my conscious recognition and attention through ‘divine reflections and projections’ until I became ‘unconsciously aware’ and awoke to their existence. But in accordance with the ‘our way or the highway’ perception of the society in which I exist, amongst my peer group at college, I was just left to sink and without a care. Although in reality as a young teenager, I required guidance, direction and forgiveness for my unconsciously driven and misguided ways. So increasingly, I immersed myself in skateboarding as my means of release and as a way of dealing with my disaffection, sense of alienation and isolation at college. Again, the sub-culture of skateboarding gave a home to a privately disaffected youth at a loss as to his place in the world; a deeper reality inherent in the activity ‘the powers that be’ at college and in society at large, arrogantly overlooked (and overlook). Although of course, along with every other ‘management activity’ skating only proved to be a temporary form of release and escapism, not a permanent resolution, and sooner or later I would have to again emerge from my ‘skateboard fantasy land’ and face ‘reality’ and myself (whether I wanted to or not).’
‘When I did turn up to class though, I had nowhere to escape and sometimes had to take her rather blatant abuse and subtle social belittling, head-on. In one instance in particular, I was seriously reprimanded by her in front of the whole class in the Sports Hall after severely injuring/bruising my leg skating at the weekend, thereby being unable to undertake any ‘games’ during the week. In her rabid eyes, I was of course just making up pathetic excuses to ‘get out of doing sport,’ and along with her huffing and puffing, I had to listen to her ramble on in-front of everyone something to the effect that: ‘To have injured myself skateboarding of all things was simply inexcusable, and it was high time I grew out of such childish activities anyway’ (or at least it was according to her ill-informed, limited, arrogant, self-deluded and ignorant view). As if that wasn’t bad enough, at the very start of the year she explained to the rest of the whole of the A Level P.E class (whilst I was sat in the classroom I might add) that the previous year at college I had been something of a ‘naughty boy,’ misguidedly getting ‘caught-up’ and misbehaving with, other ‘not so desirables;’ ah, enough of the flattery please, your making me blush woman! I had no choice but to just sit there and begrudgingly take it head-on, whilst thanking my lucky stars that at least I had only 2hrs of P.E theory a week. Suffice-to-say, along with my rather subtle antagonistic and apathetic behaviour, almost from the outset, my reputation and general character amongst the new ‘sports crowd’ was unfairly somewhat tarnished with a ‘big black brush’ and there was little if anything I could do from then on to recover the situation.’
‘Of course, within all of this perceived ‘darkness’ there was much ‘light’. Indeed, I soon ‘hooked-up’ with Jay again. It was great to see him after the summer break and he equally seemed ‘stoked’ to see me given my over-exuberant disposition with regards skateboarding, so he’d have plenty of persuasion and motivation to come out! As such, we resumed our regular weekly skate. He was now mobile in terms of having his parent’s car to drive and I started to go over to his house some evenings and Wednesdays afternoons. There we watched his numerous skate videos (New Deal’s ‘Useless Wooden Toys’ and ‘1281,’ Powell’s, ‘Ban This’ and ‘Propaganda,’ Santa Cruz’s, ‘Streets of Fire,’ Plan-B’s ‘Questionable’ and more) or flicked through his numerous skate magazines. We listened to his music collection (many so-called Grunge bands of the day including the likes of Pixies, Nirvana, L7, Tad, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Junior, Soundgarden and Sonic Youth). He played his guitar (which I was amazed by) and sometimes throughout the year, we even skipped college altogether and went for whole ‘skate-days-out’ in Nottingham. Sometimes we skated at Broadmarsh Banks and the town centre, whilst watching other raging locals who happened to be sessioning in the middle of the day, browsed through the alternative and ‘indie’ guitar music sections in the record stores, and also went over to Rollersnakes to spend an age gazing at the amazing array of decks, boots and clothes for sale. Jay often impressed when out skating with his smooth 360-flips, pressure-flips and nollie-flip variations, whereas I just stuck to burly old ‘ollie’ grabs out of, and back into the banks, or up and over obstacles, which were hardly pushing the skateboarding boundaries anymore.’
‘…The Bonderov decks in particular were the source of a lot of controversy for several reasons. The first one with the single topless lady on it was controversial in that some people argued that it was in fact a dude who’d had a sex change (must have been the ‘dog’s nut’ one, because he/she looks pretty convincing). Moreover, given their controversial nature, some people clearly weren’t happy about the use of naked ladies on the bottom of skateboards. One male reader openly complained in a skate magazine with direct reference to the Bonderov ‘slick’ about the subject of pornography entering into the graphical world of skateboarding, suggesting that: ‘It was disgusting; a blatant form of female exploitation at many levels simultaneously, and even, an attack on the so-called ‘alternative’ nature and integrity of skateboarding itself, which clearly, nobody seemed to care about by producing such material.’ Undoubtedly, the dude made some solid points in his letter of complaint, and yet at the same time, the whole subject of naked ladies on the bottom of skateboards was completely open to interpretation and personal perspective. For, there is a definitive difference between blatant ‘perversion,’ ‘lechery’ and adoration; the latter is attempted to be expressed herein. For example, it could equally be argued that we live in a world where beautiful women are one of (if not the) most divinely magnificent beings on the planet, made manifest in a heavenly physical form that the great majority of heterosexual (and in some cases homosexual) males (and females) find absolutely fascinating, and unable to leave alone regardless; even to the point of many men pampering to many women’s whims simply to be in their company, or even be in relationship to them, at all and every cost…’
‘As this rapid transition in board design, graphics, production and sales occurred, the previously long-term, strong graphical images and identities attached to many pro skaters and skateboard companies previously, seemed to become almost completely lost in a ‘let’s just follow the current fad’ collage/kaleidoscopically, ever-changing, skateboard world that sometimes made you think you’d smoked way too much ‘home-grown’ at the weekend when trying to choose a new deck in a skate shop, or made you look twice at the soft drink you were ‘supping on,’ to see if it were an alcoholic beverage instead that was effecting your vision! The ‘who’s riding what’ factor was further compounded by many pro skaters using graphic-less, prototype models on skate videos, any board they fancied from the company they were riding for instead of their own model, and an increasing emphasis upon riders ‘jumping ship’ from skate company-to-skate company, all of which, seemed to have new teams faster than ever before.’
‘…I had to keeping scrapping cash together for a new pair of massively over-sized skate jeans, little-by-little. It wasn’t until 1993 that I finally had enough cash and accordingly excitedly bought some dark purple/blue Vision ‘Hangers’ from ‘Off-Beat Sportz’ priced at £60.00. When they arrived in the post, and upon first opening the parcel, I looked at them and thought: ‘I must be crazy wanting to wear these, people are gonna think I’m wacko; I’ll get a right bollocking if I wear them around the Sports Department.’ And sure enough, that is exactly what transpired! The one (and only) time I unwisely risked going into college in them, I was immediately met by the female sports lecturer with almost shocks of horror, as she blurted out: ‘Oh my god Dave!, what an earth are they; you can’t be serious wearing them?; if you have something in your sports bag with you, go and change into something else more suitable to be in and around the Sports Department this minute; if not, you’ll have to wear them for the rest of the day, but I don’t want to see you wearing something like them again in the Sports Department; whatever next!; I’ve seen it all now; what an earth are we going to do with you?’ Not exactly what you’d call a positive response to say the least! Admittedly, my ‘Hangers’ were a little on the baggy-side and out of the ‘norm,’ but it surely didn’t help either that sometimes I obliviously wore a ‘Zero Sophisto’ long sleeve t-shirt with ‘Free your mind Fuck the system’ written on the front; OOPS.’
‘Outside of and away from the significant transitions and ‘fads’ in skateboard equipment, clothes and ‘fashions,’ once again, I settled into a regular skating routine around and alongside my studies at college. Despite the expensive disappointment of such on-going ‘board snapping antics’ my life had become more dominated by skating again, and although I excelled in the academic classes at college when I could be bothered to revise and work hard (which in the second year, was not very often) given my increased sense of severance from the ‘sports crowd’ and Sports Department, all I really wanted to do was get out of college and go skating as much as possible. Indeed, so strong was my inexplicable ‘unconscious emotive hook’ into skateboarding that I spent most of my free-time reading skate magazines, ogling all the new products and analysing the ‘tramline tricks’ section each month, and wondering how the hell it was possible to keep up with all the flip-tricks? Or going out skating with Jay or back in Mablethorpe to ‘push’ my ‘level’ at any costs, and mostly daydreaming about skateboarding whilst gazing out of the classroom window instead of concentrating on my A Level studies, which in contrast, I found tedious, dull, disengaging, pointless, and inevitably, boring. Inevitably, in early 1993 I didn’t perform very well at all in my ‘mock’ exams, because my ‘unconscious emotive hook,’ had wholesale drawn me back into another ‘skateboard fantasy land’ at a time where I was meant to be moving -on and growing-up. As such, I had no motivation for academic revision or could even see the point of it, preferring instead to read skate magazines which only re-informed my rather youthful, disaffected, skateboarder outlook at the time, and they’re ideas on education were hardly what the teachers wanted to hear. Indeed, the writers in the skate ‘zines I read openly mocked and ridiculed education in a rather hilarious manner, from ‘entertaining the notion of attending college in the first place,’ ‘having to actually get up in the morning,’ ‘wanting to avoid being controlled by the state after the tedium of secondary school was over,’ to even proposing that ‘time spent in academia could even land you on the TV show for geeks, named ‘Blockbusters’’!’
‘…Accordingly, instead of paying attention to the history lecturer’s tedious spiel on what the bloody Victorians were doing in 1895 or whenever, I gazed out of the window over to Wyndham Park and mentally practiced the flip-tricks I was working on getting ‘wired,’ or daydreamed about skating full-time as a pro skater in the early nineties, ‘phat pants and tiny wheels’ craze,whereby I wouldn’t have to do college work and got paid and respected for being a genius, technical street skater instead, or I watched-the-clock longing for the end of the day, so I could rush-off home to read skate magazines and skate instead. Of course, my increased and ethereal daydreaming was hard to disguise given the ever decreasing amount, but increased poor quality, of work I handed-in as the year wore on, and increasingly the history lecturer in particular began to ‘home-in’ on me more and more as ‘being a slacker,’ ‘a daydreamer,’ and not paying attention; in many ways, he was right…’
‘…as before with school, and as the final term progressed and my situation intensified, in contrast to the beginning of the academic year, some days the very thought and prospect of having to even go into college and face people, made me decidedly sick and nauseas. Increasingly, I didn’t even leave the bedsit until 9.15am, knowing full well I had to actually be in college for lectures at 9am. Things progressed to the point where I was almost physically sick upon walking across Wyndham Park in the morning on my way into college, and as a result, sometimes, and after simply sitting in the park for a while to see if those physical symptoms would pass, I just turned around, went home and spent the day alone and didn’t even bother to turn up at all as a consequence. Of course, the more I didn’t turn up, the more I didn’t want to appear, and got caught in a vicious cycle whereby I didn’t even show my face for 3 days in a row and simply used the ‘I felt ill’ excuse to offer a bogus answer when questioned. These were real experiences of marked social and personal disaffection and bewilderment that lay hidden from wider view. But as a consequence of the ‘just get on with things boy’ and ‘boys don’t cry’ motto, the fact that I didn’t mention such episodes to anyone, and my apt ability to successfully somehow ‘just carry on,’ my family, friends at college, girlfriend, and bro’s at home, were all completely oblivious to my private unconscious complexities, and the very real and increasing sense of alienation, disaffection and isolation, I was experiencing every day.’
‘…Only in time, and through a personal transition in my own perception, would I come to understand exactly why and how such events unfolded, above and beyond a conscious understanding. Perhaps understandably feeling extremely confused as to what exactly I was going to do with my life next now that it was blatantly clear that college was ‘done with,’ the only logical conclusion I could reach was to go back home in the hope that would somehow be a good thing and that maybe my old bro’s would again unconditionally accept me? And so, my mind completely decided, I wholesale dropped out of A Levels without a care or serious thought, said goodbye to any hope of pursuing a career, ‘packed up’ and ‘shipped out’ of Grantham and returned to Mablethorpe to live and work with my parents, and skate as much as I possibly could, completely oblivious to the long-term consequences of such a naive and foolhardy act.’
Chapter 3: ‘Back in Brotherhood’
1993-96: Flatland technical flip-tricks, tiny wheels, oversized clothing, shrinking products and hip-hop tunes briefly rule: the transition in skateboarding reaches its zenith, but then unexpectedly continues on.
‘Now it’s your turn to see me rise,
You burned my wings but watch me fly above your head.
Looking down I see you far below, looking up you see my spirit glow.’
RIDE, ‘Seagull’ 1990.
‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding’
Evolving, eternal, enduring, transitional ‘divine paradox of great perfection’ expressed herein: ‘The more you seek the light the more the darkness will seek you’ and ‘the more you seek the darkness the more the light will seek you’.
‘For reasons that defy rational explanation, in the summer of 1993, as the ‘phat pants, football ‘slick’ decks, tiny wheel, technical ‘flip-tricks’’ craze in skateboarding reached its zenith, and the limited, small-minded, belittling and negative perceptions of ‘authority types’ at college left far behind me, to my complete surprise, my ability as a street skater somewhat blossomed right before my amazed eyes. Consequently, it felt like I was beginning to fly and leave the ‘ha, skateboarding Dave, it’s for kids’ opinions far behind me, and my hours of private, dedicated practice were beginning to finally pay off. Why this happened, I cannot say for sure; I can only ponder that it was partly a consequence of diligently practicing for months on end, circumstance, and new equipment. A case in point; immediately upon my return back to Mablethorpe after fleeing Grantham, I had to buy a used 1992 New Deal, John Montesi ‘Bad Dream’ ‘slick’ board off Ove after I’d snapped another in a long line of decks, to the point where I seriously believed I’d been cursed…’
‘Outside of and away from my initial personal euphoria about my limited progression as a technical street skater, rather surprisingly (and in many ways disappointingly) with my arrival back to live in Mablethorpe full-time again in the summer of 1993, nearly everyone in the local area had pretty much either stopped skating entirely, or the activity was no longer their main concern and past time. The gang of lads (Twig, Dean, Monty, and Sam) that’d hung around and skated together previously, had either shown themselves to be of the ‘fad-factor’ in all reality, or had already moved on in their lives to pursue other things deemed as more ‘mature’ (music, apprenticeships, drinking, smoking, ‘the home-grown’ girls, hanging around the arcades, etc) and even Luke had pretty much washed his hands of skateboarding altogether. Chris was increasingly absorbed in his full-time hobby as a guitarist by all accounts, and was an amazingly talented one at that, whereas Pob just didn’t seem to come out skating as much anymore, despite still living in Sutton. The ruler Ove on the other hand, became more involved in a long-term relationship with a sweet girl named Mel, and got a job working in the arcades in Mablethorpe, so understandably, skating was no longer at the forefront of his concerns as it once was (although he did come out from time-to-time, somewhat retaining his naturally crisp-like, and effortless skills). Like the time he came out for ‘a quick skate before work’ as he put it, with Wilf and I in Mablethorpe and effortlessly showed us front and backside ollie-shove-it-late-flips outside the Co-op on the flat, as if they were nothing at all, and didn’t even look stoked about landing them. As ever, I simply gawped in awe and wondered why I couldn’t make skating look like nothing at all as well? Unfortunately, my skateboarding reality was a ‘practice my arse off to land anything and everything, and even then, there’s no guarantee of consistency or progression;’ bummer hey?‘
‘Alongside the seemingly overnight change to technical tricks and thin, lollypop skateboard styles, in the latter part of 1992 and early 1993, almost every other aspect of skateboard equipment seemed subject to change as well. For example, (and perhaps inevitably) many skateboard truck companies began to produce ever lower, thinner, narrower and lighter trucks, to accommodate the flip-trick craze that had taken skating by storm. Venture introduced ‘Featherlites’ that were made significantly lighter by less metal in the hanger and base, alongside a much lower profile. Gullwing released ‘Little-G’s’ that had a new, rounder and shorter base-plate with a new truck-hole design, and Gring King created the ‘GK2’ and ‘GK3,’ which in the case of the later, alongside having numerous clever innovations in terms of countersunk, allen-key axle-end nuts, thick, removable washers on each axle to accommodate the new, skinny and tiny wheels, lighter axles and base plates, also accommodated the new, shorter truck-hole pattern. The reality was however that despite these numerous innovations and changes on trucks, it didn’t actually make them last longer or function better.’
‘…So in short, in a very short period of 3-4 years, pretty much all aspects of skateboard design had by 1993, in some way or another, shrunk in size, been reduced in weight, or disposed of completely. This was regardless of the negative consequences of the increasingly short lifespan of equipment, reduced function in many respects, and the way in which everyday skaters had to fork-out a seemingly constant supply of cash to keep up with new skate products at every level. The only exception to this rule was of course clothes, which had expanded to a size that was now well beyond all purposeful comprehension to anyone, and even skaters began to trip over their ‘excesses of denim flapping in the wind’ and increasingly questioned the sanity of the situation amongst growing concerns of the ‘phat style’ becoming ‘mainstream fashion;’ inevitably, it wouldn’t be long before skaters abandoned the ‘XXXL look’ completely. In many cases, the initial consequence of all these simultaneous changes was that for many skaters, what was once a pretty dependable, simple, ‘alternative’ and pressure free way of forgetting about the hassles of daily life by going out skateboarding, had become an increasing pain-in-the-ass itself. Skateboarding had insidiously and quite rapidly become an activity increasingly pressured by fashions; being ‘in’ or ‘down’ with ‘the trend;’ ‘phat’ attitudes; reduced lifespan of products; and a constant source of financial headache; thanks skateboard pro’s and companies!…’
‘Whereas once-upon-a-time as a young street skater, like a Christian clinging to their Bible, I used to excitedly skate down town each month to buy skate mag’s from the newsagent or I had them delivered to my front door, and completely absorb myself in the writing and culture of skateboarding at every level, by the mid ‘94, I bought them on an irregular basis, which slowly diminished to the point of not bothering at all. Some of the remaining mag’s I purchased in May ’94 just brimmed with a ‘popsicle-tastic skateboards’ and ‘slim-Jim-jeans’ style that didn’t excite me as a skater at all. This ‘slimmed down’ fact was openly bemoaned where one writer said when reviewing some newly released and stylish Droors jeans that ‘they definitely seemed to be following a slimmer profile in comparison to the phat threads of ‘old’ and that ‘jeans ain’t what they used to be’. Indeed, as the 1990’s progressed, skate ‘threads’ notably shrunk to a so-say ‘more normal’ size, and to my eyes skaters looked hardly any different to ordinary ‘Joe public’. By June 1994, disappointingly, one reviewer even went as far as to say about some slimmer ‘STM’ jeans that ‘at least by wearing these, skaters won’t get laughed at by ‘Joe public’ anymore;’ I could only yawn at the blandness of it all.’
‘However, despite the increasingly side-line role skateboarding now played in our day-to-day lives as we grew older, in terms of comical mischief and ‘mess about’ mentality, Wilf and I still carried on pretty much as before in our crazy ways. Without much effort, we easily found other ways to amuse ourselves away from skateboarding that were wholly out of the ordinary, and even perhaps verging upon, shared insanity. A case in point, completely out of the blue, Wilf and I developed a rather unique and peculiar quirk together; a bizarre inability to go into the local Chinese takeaway and order food, without not bursting into tears of laughter together (and yeah, I mean actually crying with laughter at the counter, hardly able to communicate effectively with the person serving us, and then, whilst sitting and waiting for the food to be prepared, continuing in tears of hysterics together about absolutely nothing!). Many times after leaving the takeaway outlet, I would question: ‘Wilf man, what an earth were you laughing at?’ and he’d reply, ‘I dunno, I was laughing at you because you were laughing.’ All we did know for sure, was that every time we wanted to order a take-out, even before we got in the door of the Chinese takeaway, we would both start laughing-out-loud, and by the time we were stood at the counter, it was almost impossible for us to even place an order as we stood together in howls of laughter and tears! There was no particular person or reason to explain why we were laughing, but that didn’t stop us from howling so hard that tears ran down our faces, and we had stomach cramps together. Things became so ridiculous that it reached the point where going to the Chinese takeaway to order food together was a real problem, and almost impossible; we simply started laughing-out-loud at even the mention of the place!’
‘…As the ‘skateboard fantasy land’ I’d retreated to in Mablethorpe amongst my old bro’s after my failed adventures at college, slowly-but-surely came to an end, like many ordinary skaters, I had to reluctantly emerge from it and face the ‘hard realities of life’. Part of the ‘hard realities of life’ in my case, were a persistent sense of unconscious inner pain I carried related to my experiences as a very young boy, further compounded by the accumulative effects of multiple head traumas I’d now suffered that still persisted because they were being held by ‘divine unconscious aspects’ of ‘me,’ and in the case of the latter, had unknowingly even distorted my cerebral/cranial system. But I didn’t consciously understand this because like the great majority of people, as I’d ‘grown up’ I’d become completely unconsciously unaware and was ignorant to the deeper integrated functional realities of my mind/body complex. Moreover, I couldn’t escape my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ because they existed and were real, and were speaking to me through a sense of pain that they desperately required my attention, although consciously, I was oblivious to this enduring truth. This equated to a private sense of personal disaffection, isolation, unrest, confusion, bemusement and inevitably, unhappiness in the world no matter where I ‘escaped to’ that I was unable to easily resolve because of my ‘divine denial and amnesia’…’
‘…From here-on, what transpired in terms of skateboarding and my life, was quite beyond the most vivid and wildest states of mind at the time. Eventually, I would come sharply to terms with my ‘divine unconscious shadows’ that had for so long privately haunted me, and even have to contemplate my own vulnerability and mortality in doing so, whilst skateboarding eventually gave me a reason to choose life. The reality in 1996 was however that the end of one major transition had taken place that I’d bore witness too: ‘the rise of street skateboarding and the demise of vertical ramp riding’ in the world of skateboarding. From here-on, and alongside skateboarding’s continued evolution, another major transition would take place at a personal level, as the defunct young street skater, now rather hilariously presenting as a ‘man’ who left Lincolnshire for pastures new whilst attempting to ‘get in reality,’ underwent his own major transformation at many levels simultaneously. At last, I became consciously aware of the ‘divine unconscious,’ along a decidedly tortuous path. Indeed, and despite my level best efforts to merrily play the game of adulthood alongside everyone else, instead, a blazing ‘karmic bonfire’ unexpectedly unfolded along my path. An experience that completely shattered my ‘divine denial and delusions’ once and for all; a path skateboarding would again, play a pivotal role in, to the point of saving me from an early grave and even: ‘Transforming my Consciousness through Skateboarding’; events recounted in Book 3: ‘Embracing Adulthood as a Skateboarder’.’
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Transition and all the material composing this project is copyrighted. No reproduction in any form is allowed without the permission of the author.
BOOK 2 ‘Skateboarding Beyond Boyhood & Brotherhood’