INTRODUCTION ‘Transition’s Template’

‘Your soul and mine will carry on, when this transparent world is gone.

There’s nothing strange in what I say, it’s always meant to be this way.

Forever we go on and on, energy converts it’s never gone.

There’s never going to be an end, a million atoms can’t pretend.

While we’re here [let] love stay with me, let me and he, go running free.

Then we’ll change, not disappear, all channels receiving, loud and clear.’ 

RIDE ‘Birdman’ 1994.

‘You are about to embark upon a journey into an awakening of your divine nature. Indeed, by showing up, you have called this ‘divine download’ forth and are ready to take this journey. For, it is easily observable that as you read these words you believe you are awake and conscious. And yet, this is a ‘divine delusion’ of grand proportions; you are far more than you currently imagine yourself to be. In reality, identifying with the significant limitations of your ego, you are residing in ‘divine denial’ and ‘divine unconscious amnesia’; you are in-fact, asleep. The question is: are you ready to be truly awakened by: ‘Transforming Consciousness through Skateboarding?’…

‘... for the next 20 years and more, no matter how hard I tried or what personal circumstances I faced, skateboarding eerily haunted me like a ghost or phantom and never allowed me to forget about its meaning and importance in my life, even to the point of surprisingly eventually playing a pivotal role in rescuing me from an empty, isolated, mercilessly painful and pointless existence (and ultimately myself), whilst acting as a prime motivator in ‘Transforming my Consciousness through Skateboarding’. This trilogy of books known as Transition is that powerful journey, and very much more besides.’

‘Whilst these are an inseparable ‘part and parcel’ of what modern skateboarding has evolved into, at its true core skating is still a largely misunderstood phenomenon. Although skateboarding has evolved since its early development in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when it was regarded as little more than ‘a childish fad’ or ‘a kid’s toy’ and has grown into something resembling a modern and sophisticated sporting activity, in comparison to more ‘conventional sports’ such as cricket, tennis, snooker, football, boxing, rugby and golf (all of which have long and formally celebrated histories and hero’s) skateboarding has only recently begun to even consider the merits of its past. Since the year 2000, skateboarding’s history and culture has been elucidated in the compelling, crucial and enlightening films such as ‘Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator,’ ‘Dog Town and Z-Boys,’ and the ‘special edition’ re-release of Powell’s infamous ‘The Search for Animal Chin,’ ‘Public Domain,’ ‘Ban This,’ and more. Despite clear hagiographic tones in the first two examples, the collective impact of these films presented and delved into fundamental eras of skateboarding’s past previously unseen in any great depth. They discussed pivotal individuals, teams, equipment, styles, developments, phases and events in the ‘sports’ history, and also helped to stimulate a wider interest about skateboarding beyond the confines of hardcore skaters themselves and even arguably contributed to a dramatic increase in the number of skateboard collectors and the rising prices of vintage skateboard decks. Although these films did justice to skateboarding’s history and culture, they do not present us with the complete picture of skateboarding. In truth, the history of skateboarding at many levels has not been fully written, and many stories remain untold.’

‘So, despite the seemingly huge amount of recent film and written material about skateboarding, the question remains; how do we bridge the gap between the industry image of skateboarding as I have briefly outlined, with all the products, perceptions, fashions, changes and legacies this entails and the simple stories of how skating has and still does, affect so many ordinary skaters’ lives around the world? How does the bigger picture all fit together in terms of the world of skateboarding itself that compromises not only the industry, but also ordinary skaters; surely their mortal stories are what bridges the gap, thereby elucidating the deeper meaning behind skateboarding as an activity? What drives people to become a skateboarder in the first place?; spend the greater part of their youth relentlessly pursing the activity at the behest and sometimes detriment, of so many other things?; why do they choose a largely socially misunderstood, extremely difficult, dangerous, often demonised, sometimes solitary and belittled activity such as skateboarding, and not one of the many so-say ‘conventional sports’ where praise, overt egoistic massaging, acceptance and admiration is often assured?; why do they spend huge sums of money on skateboard magazines, decks, clothes and boots, most of which get completely trashed in the process and then thrown away?; and what happens to those skaters when those ‘golden days’ are over?; how does skateboarding then fit into the rest of their lives, and how do they resolve the dilemmas of the demands of adulthood and their addiction with skateboarding, which I know for many skaters still remains with them? Also, what is inherent in the act and lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with being a skateboarder that in the case of disaffected souls such as Mark Gator Rogowski, drove him to feel such a deep sense of alienation, loss and anger when his heyday as a professional skater was over, that it drove him to sadly commit murder?’

‘…the perpetual questions remain: what is skateboarding really all about in the context of ‘everyday life’ and what about the stories of mere mortals such as myself, who bore witness to some of the most fundamental changes and exciting times in skating’s history, lived the life of an ordinary skater alongside every day commitments, and still remain strangely mystified by the activity today? I believe that it is the untold stories of anonymous skaters who lived through specific periods of skateboarding that often reveal the deeper meaning, experience and emotive captivation actually at the very core of the activity; for they speak on direct experience which is a truly powerful and enlightening thing. And so, I have shared my experience in writing for the benefit of other skateboarders in an independent way.’

‘So, exactly what is and what isn’t the ‘Transition Skateboarding Trilogy’? Transition is a melding of personal experience and testimony, observation, opinion, history, sentimentalism, change and fact. It includes subjects such as sociology, psychology, mysticism, energy, shamanism, kinesiology, unconscious, sub-conscious, conscious and super-conscious, brotherhood, belonging, antagonism, alienation, isolation, the depths of despair, feelings of exhilaration, euphoria, melancholia, dysfunction, friendships, relationships, family, education, careers, independence, humour, misbehaviour, mischievousness, responsibility, irresponsibility, fashion, trends, serious and acute illness, trauma, radiant health, dependency, searching, striving, dedication, frustration, disappointment, conflict with authority, trying to fit in, disaffection, dropping out, trying again, change, personal transition and transformation, denigration, personal pain, persecution, denial, acceptance, resurrection, loss, being found, meaning and purpose, exhilaration, freedom, release, escapism and more.’

‘I’ve unknowingly written a historiographical document that records a major transitional period in skateboarding’s history that I hope strikes an emotive chord for many skaters who lived through the same period. I’ve documented through personal experience and in as much depth as I could, a crucial but often overlooked, superficially viewed and scoffed at period in skateboarding’s history that I bore witness to and in many respects, alongside other crucial periods, contributed to where skateboarding is at today, but has remarkably gone largely unnoticed in any depth. The interrelation of the development of skateboarding over the last 30 years or so has been recorded to a certain extent in this work (although admittedly there are gaping holes in the detail I’ve included). I am only human however and have simply done the very best that I can on skateboarding’s behalf given my present circumstances, so I hope the reader can forgive this works understandable limitations and look to its many strengths instead. It seems a crying shame to my mind that such an exciting, wacky, challenging, radical, colourful and fundamentally important period in skateboarding’s history and the many skaters who lived through it, have no in-depth or cohesive reference point in print. At best, they have only a brief mention here and there in some skateboard histories and books; so, it’s time to change that.’

‘When I began writing Transition after nonchalantly accepting the ‘divine download,’ I only had a brief set of criteria to follow from which to create the work. First, and perhaps of paramount importance, was a desire to write something of real meaning and authenticity for skateboarders and the world of skateboarding in general. To create a literary fantasy world that other skaters could enter into and absorb themselves in, outside of and away from ‘the mainstream’ and ‘people who don’t get it’. A work not driven by profit or any other superficial reason; only to create a writing that could be used as a tool of collective identification surrounding the issues many ordinary skateboarders face throughout their lives (albeit expressed through the limitations of one story alone). Second, a ‘something about street skating and the decline of vertical ramp riding’ thesis, based in my direct experience; that which I’d witnessed and so formed the basis of the writing in a large measure. Third, a desire to write a work for skaters that inspires them; a book they open and thereafter, want to know a lot more about, so excitedly read on and even feel inspired to skate. Finally, a rather spine chilling, cautionary word of advice from the Shaman that flowed something like this: ‘Hmmm; are you absolutely certain you want this download? For, make no mistake; it will be hard work; there will be many obstacles to overcome; it will consume a great deal of your time, and perhaps, even take years to complete; the writing will be unpaid work and without praise or ego massaging; it will be a solitary endeavour; you, and you alone, will be responsible for the work and it’s completion. Nevertheless, you must realise; once you accept this download you must complete what you have begun or it will never leave you alone; it will play out before your very eyes regardless and demand your full attention. And, if you make the grave mistake of trying to ignore the work, burying your head in the sand, or presenting pathetic excuses as to not engage with this divine download, it will simply follow you, and you will see it in many guises everywhere and forevermore as it asks for your attention; and this will continue on until you have finished what you called forth. So, it is said to you in no uncertain terms; be very careful in what you call forth here, as you will definitely receive that which you request to be given, and remember, ‘once begun, better finish.’ A very powerful statement I was acutely aware of whilst writing away…’

‘…my original intention and perception was of only one book; but such was the volume and propensity of the final work which I didn’t want to ‘chop and change,’ ‘water down’ or compromise on, it became an interrelated saga of three books reflecting the lifecycle as a skateboarder. Book 1: ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding’; Book 2: ‘Skateboarding beyond Boyhood and Brotherhood’; Book 3: ‘Embracing Adulthood as a Skateboarder’. Like any epic trilogy, this work has real scope and depth; Book 1 lays down a strong platform for the reader in terms of background, themes, content and characters, and sets the structure/scene for the following works. Book 2 deepens and expands the writing in terms of historical content, real life and emotional experiences; whilst Book 3 is arguably the most cataclysmic and intensive (particularly with regards to its eventual traumatic/harrowing nature in chapter 2). As such, the number of words that eventually composed the ‘Transition Skateboarding Trilogy’ even became meaningless in the end, because the sheer volume of them far outweighed my initial expectations, and some days I felt like a German infantry soldier in the Second World War marching across the vast expanse of Russia without a seeming end, constantly hoping to see the horizon as a definitive landmark to signal the end of the journey, but slowly realising that the task might not be quite as easy or quick as initially expected, whilst wondering what the hell I’d let myself in for in embarking on the adventure in the first place!’…

‘It really is as though an inexplicable ‘something’ drove this work along and I simply wrote the pages; I just acted as the physical vessel through which the download was carried out. Outside of skateboard literature related to history, culture, art and industry, I didn’t use any other written sources to write Transition, so where an earth a lot of this material came from I have no clue whatsoever; it just ‘flowed out’. These books are also a reflection of the past and history itself and the person who experienced what is related herein to a large extent, no longer even exists. Equally, in keeping with a fundamental law of the universe, I recognise that as an individual I will continue to relentlessly change, so it feels rather strange looking back on the comparatively recent events mentioned herein as my life has significantly ‘moved on’ since the time of writing (as has my personal process). As such, the events related herein seem ‘like a daydream’ or at times even ‘a bad dream’ I’m slowly waking up from and have even, woken up from completely. Furthermore, the events that have transpired in my life recently have even humbled my perception of creation itself and long gone is my delusional belief that ‘everything is surely explainable at some level’…’

‘All I do know for sure, is that as the writing progressed, I came to the realisation that my own experiences and journey as an ordinary skateboarder actually laid the basic foundation for the deeper meaning I felt needed to be shared about skateboarding as an activity in the context of real life to transcend the rather superficial (although helpful and enlightening) writing that has gone before. At the same time, I didn’t want this work to be contrived, artificially constructed, a ‘cardboard cut-out’ or fake in any way. I’m sure the reader will understand my meaning when I use Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ video as a hilarious visual reference point as to the ‘really nice guy’ hagiographic falsities to be avoided. Hence, increasingly and sometimes begrudgingly, I realised that to get right down to the true core of the matter, I would have to openly share with complete strangers some of my gory, complex, hidden, painful, denied, difficult and unpleasant details, and even the extreme complexities and frailties of my psyche; otherwise, what would have been the point of this work, if these books don’t serve the larger purpose for which they’re intended?’

‘…this trilogy is a manifestation of my desire to write something that is real in the current climate of excessive emphasis upon egotism, commerce, ‘being down with fashion,’ regurgitation, ‘celebrity’ and ultimately, superficiality. A sense of wanting to speak truth through my experience as best as I can or inspire other’s through my own humble story in some small way. An aspiration to achieve something similar to what the skateboarder Anthony Shetler recently expressed about ‘people being inspiring by speaking truth and sharing their stories with the world, whether that’s a cool thing to do or not.’ Whether the material I have utilised herein to achieve that inspiring end is ‘cool,’ acceptable or agrees with so say ‘conventional wisdom’ or not, is simply inconsequential to the sense of realism through skateboarding I’m conveying.’

‘Stacey Peralta identified on ‘Stoked: The rise and fall of Gator’ that skateboarding often acts as an activity and sub-culture that many disaffected kids get involved in for reason that still remain unclear to this very day. In keeping with this sociological questioning and rather ‘unknown quantity’ I wanted Transition to go some way towards answering those questions as best as is possible through only one personal testimony alone and in doing so, hopefully somewhat speak on behalf of, and to, those ‘wayward kids’. To say that the many trials and tribulations of everyday life shared by many disaffected people are a collective experience in reality and it isn’t just the likes of Gator who experienced such things as alienation, confusion, emotional conflict, pain and more. All human-beings experience such things and that is OK, if admittedly not easy; such experiences don’t make you ‘a wacko,’ ‘a psychological problem,’ ‘a malingerer’ or ‘a problem case’. On the contrary, experiences of disaffection and alienation actually reflect the reality of the consequences of the endemic denial, irresponsibility, power mongering, ‘our way or the highway’ and ‘I’m alright jack’ perceptions and behaviours our selfish societies still hold to and live out (a truth itself that is deeply denied).’

‘Given my life experiences it would have been very easy to write from a juvenile place of blaming others, ‘woe is me’ and absolving myself from all responsibility for the all of everything. But I didn’t want to behave in such a manner; I accept full responsibility for my part in this journey and thereby tried to write from a broader and all inclusive perspective that expresses the complexities within the simultaneous experience we call life and our collective roles within that manifestation. A way of simply saying: ‘These are the experiences of our collective behaviours and what can we learn from them;’ as opposed to ‘it was everyone else’s fault’ literature. An embodiment of the transcendental belief of: ‘Forgetting the experiences and remembering the lessons hidden within them’. And so, as best as I can I’ve tried to write from an ‘all inclusive’ and ‘every angle’ perspective no matter how hard that was at the time of writing. All the people mentioned in these books have actually played a part in a magnificent, divine experience we collectively unconsciously created together. And so, warts and all, I shared my experiences without attachment to outcomes.’

‘Perhaps even more importantly, I came to realise that a reference point of sorts for the often sniggered or sneered at pivotal period of skating and the skaters which these books primarily cover, is better than none at all, and so for the benefit of skaters who shared similar experiences of the same era, I ‘took the bull by the horns’ and somewhat reluctantly committed myself to publishing this work after much head scratching and deliberation. Surely this is preferable to the regrettable sentiment of never allowing these stories to unfold, to the point that I no longer even remember them, and like the inherent limitations of my ego, inevitably, they simply fade away into a conceptual oblivion that serves no larger purpose or decent cause? Surely, it’s better to record them for the current and future generations to muse over and hopefully, to even learn something from? In simple terms, my humble hope in recording the journey honestly related herein, is an attempt to remind and educate others’ on the value of skateboarding’s history and magic, and thereby keep its essential and all important flame alive and burning through the inseparable chord of history itself. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading these pages, for then all the hard work, solitude, struggling, striving, isolation, pain, torment, dedication, determination and perseverance has been worth it, and the belief that: ‘at some level, the all of everything and everyone without end, serves a divine purpose’ is justified as an enduring truth. And so, here it is, a ‘no hole’s barred,’ ‘balls out,’ honest account to do the work justice and to emphasis the profound nature of the points I wish to make about skateboarding as a life affirming and addictive activity in the context of everyday life; what you choose to make of it is of course, is entirely up to you! It is with a warm welcome that you are invited to walk down a winding path of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ of all I’ve ever known, and perceive the world through the experiences and eyes of an anonymous and ordinary, 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.