‘Everything on earth is soon forgotten, except the opinion we leave imprinted on history.
There is no [earthly] immortality but the memory that is left in the minds of men.’
Given that the ‘Transition Skateboarding Trilogy’ is inevitably a testament to the truth of ‘the memories left in the minds of men (and in some cases in skateboarding, women)’ in this instance specifically related to the deep meaning this invokes regarding the humble art and act of skateboarding, I hope the impression I leave is worthy of the challenge I undertook in creating this work. If not, then the enormity of the task was beyond me and I’m truly humbled by the power of this ‘divine download’.
Given the vastness of the writing contained in Transition, my sense is that a simplified explanation of the key themes and questioning running throughout the books is beneficial. I hope upon viewing them the reader gains a greater and more concise insight into the nature of the work and what they might glean from reading the trilogy.
BOOK 1 ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding’
The title of ‘Boyhood and Skateboarding’ beautifully explains a great deal in few words. Nevertheless, a great deal more than many can imagine is encapsulated, experienced and created during ‘boyhood’. Indeed, these are extremely formative years regarding our ‘divine/mind/energy/matter’ complex.
In the case of Transition, early boyhood is a period of the definitive creation of divine unconscious, psychological, emotional, energetic and behavioural patterns of a young boy. Indeed, he is largely the creation of the parental, sociological, cultural and geographical environment surrounding and influencing him at many levels simultaneously. A significant part of this complex is boyhood wounds growing-up in an environment of domestic violence at the hands of his overtly aggressive father who misguidedly embodies the belief that ‘overt aggression and being tough’ is part of being ‘a real man’ and that ‘boys don’t cry’.
Thus, this original wounding is unable to be acknowledged and our young boy soon unconsciously internalises it emotionally, psychologically and energetically. As such, it makes him an inexplicable social ‘misfit’ as it drives him on an unconsciously driven search to quell the inner emotional turmoil he experiences day-to-day. With rapid effect, sport and excessive exercise become his channel in the world for his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and angst. Indeed, given the intensive nature of his wounding, he excels at physical activity despite a persistent sense of ‘not fitting in’ with conventional sports due to its over-emphasis upon competition and egotistical ends of ‘being the best’ ‘winning’ ‘achievement’ and more.
However, this pattern of channelling ‘divine unconscious wounds and shadows’ and their psychological, energetic and physical manifestation through excessive exercise becomes habitual throughout his life. Although appearing initially beneficial, eventually, it will prove almost fatal. A reality our young boy is completely unaware of and instead is indoctrinated with the persistent social perception of ‘work and exercise is good for you’ and ‘people who don’t work or exercise are lazy’.
Nevertheless, as a young lad, he begins to search for a physical activity outside of conventional sports and a path of discovery unfolds that eventually leads him to skateboarding and a misfit skateboarder he befriends called Gutsy. This meeting turns our young boy’s world upside down at every level as he undergoes a transition into a skateboarder and soon becomes part of a ‘skateboarding brotherhood’ whereby the members collectively live out a ‘boyhood skateboarding fantasy land’.
Skateboarding becomes a decided channel for our young boys’ ‘divine unconscious wounds’ and a culture and activity he completely looses himself in at every opportunity. Such is the emotive draw and escapism bound up within the activity he believes (and wants) it to last forever. But ‘life is change and transition’ and to his dismay, the ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’ soon breaks down as the members grow into teenagers with new agendas that drive them apart. Moreover, the pressures of growing into a teenager forces our ordinary skateboarder to make decisions about his life in terms of career path that don’t necessarily agree with skateboarding. A continued conflict emerges as our young skateboarder struggles to cling onto skating but also do what is socially expected of him. His ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and angst also persists which collectively proves to be an intensive and compelling recipe for much turmoil in his life. But socially ‘boys don’t cry’ so an environment of denial forces our skateboarder to continue to deny the reality of his divine wounding and march on.
Transition begins in the mid-1970’s as the huge ‘Z-Boys’ skateboard craze of that era still burns brightly and accordingly, this is touched upon in relation to the fact that our young boy is too young and geographically isolated to be influenced by, or aware of, skateboarding as a real culture beyond ‘playing’ with an orange plastic banana board at home which his mother buys him as ‘a toy’. Moreover, the 1980’s proves a decidedly ‘peaks and troughs’ era for skateboarding dominated by the ‘Z-Boy’ influenced vertical ramp and bowl riding pro’s of the day. Street skateboarders and freestyle skaters are still regarded by many ‘industry types’ as ‘not serious’ or ‘a joke’. But the reality on the street is different; the great majority of skateboarders are street skaters riding urban environments outside their front-doors.
As the eighties skateboarding boom crashes by the end of the decade, vertical ramp riders and their associated sponsors decline, whereas street skateboarding becomes the new alternative to everything the eighties stood for. Increasingly, vertical ramp riders are seen as ‘sell-outs’ and ‘dinosaurs’ at the street level and a groundswell of momentum towards street skateboarding creates an abundance of hungry, lippy, young, new, upcoming street skaters. Moreover, new, small, independent skateboard companies soon emerge and stand on the other-side of the fence to the perceived corporate major players in skateboarding and embody a ‘vert is bad’ ‘street is good’ ethos. The scene is set for these two camps to be at loggerheads in the 1990’s as street dominates and vert gets sidelined. Our young skateboarder is soon influenced by this complex state of affairs in the skateboard industry, as street skateboarding is all he and Gutsy engage in and pursue. This truth is replicated (besides a new, council built, mini-ramp) amongst the ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’ they eventually become part of as the skateboard industry slowly begins to turn upon its head from vertical ramp riding to street skateboarding.
BOOK 2 ‘Skateboarding Beyond Boyhood and Brotherhood’
Book 2 sees the emergence of our skateboarder as a teenager. He forms relationships with females, intoxicated by feminine beauty and driven by his male sexual hormones now predominating. He is becoming more independent and considering his place and purpose in the world amongst a sea of much bewilderment about exactly what he should do. He is academically talented but has an apt ability at never achieving his potential and dismantling his best efforts through self-sabotage driven by his unconscious wounds persisting from boyhood. As he’s grown into a teenager his ego and identity predominate and he has lost all contact with any understanding of his ‘divine unconscious wounds and shadows’ despite the fact they still persist and call for his attention; this will prove very dangerous.
Moreover, many questions are asked of him by the adults and society around him alongside many questions about skateboarding. What are you going to do with your life? What are you going to be now you are growing up? Are you ever going to use the academic talent that has been gifted to you? Do you think you can keep skateboarding forever? Do you not see that skateboarding is for kids really and will lead to nothing? Isn’t it time you did the right thing and ‘go with the flow’ a bit more now?
As such, and amidst much confusion, our young skateboarder pursues a supposed career path in conventional sport through a ‘college of further education’ away from the isolated town he grew up in. Unfortunately, his divine unconscious shadows, psychological, emotional, energetic and behavioural patterns from boyhood are now so well entrenched and bound to skateboarding that no matter how much he consciously attempts to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘fit in’ he soon dismantles every effort he makes and ‘backtracks in search of brotherhood and skateboarding’.
Accordingly, he soon exists in a ‘no-mans-land’ social position ‘defying convention and academia’ but no longer fully part of a ‘brotherhood of skateboarding’ that acted to shield him from the day-to-day realities he finds hard to face. On the contrary, despite his best attempts to find place ‘back in brotherhood’ he is rather marginalised as group dynamics have rapidly shifted. Nevertheless, his ‘divine unconscious wounds’ act like a powerful magnet to pursue skateboarding no matter what and increasingly his full attention is turned towards the activity. Accordingly, his day-to-day life at college and in academia slowly falls apart and any chance of success he recklessly throws away through minimal application and increased defiance towards ‘authority types’. Soon, but hidden from view to the people around him, privately he lives an isolated and bewildered day-to-day existence that alienates him from ‘the sports crowd’ at college. This only furthers his passion for skateboarding, which becomes his means of place and purpose in the world. This is a reality not seen or understood by the adults around him at home and college who deem ‘its time to leave that activity for kids alone and grow up’.
But he defies them all and returns home to pursue skateboarding amongst his old brotherhood as he searches desperately for place and purpose in the world through skateboarding. Indeed, he is ‘divinely unconsciously’ attached and connected to skateboarding far beyond the wildest of conscious understanding of imaginations at this time. As such, his wishes manifest through skateboarding as his persistence and determination pay-off and his level improves and again he finds place in what is left of ‘the brotherhood of skateboarding’.
Reality and daily life persistently pester him however, and he knows his short-lived success at skating cannot last forever. The world of adulthood is beckoning as his teenage years come to an end. Again, skateboarding begins to die as his time is evermore consumed with work and relationships, whilst his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ increasingly resurface and painfully ask for his conscious acknowledgement and attention. Like the majority of people though, as an adulthood he is more in denial and unconscious amnesia than ever as his ego and sense of individual identity predominate, so he suffers in silence, projects blame onto the world around him and seeks to escape his home town and county as an answer to all he loathes about his life.
With vertical ramp riding floundering in popularity due to a rapid economic downturn late 80’s early 90’s, a huge momentum towards street skateboarding is unfolding as the antidote to eighties styles in skateboarding. Everything is slowly changing in the industry as a result: boards, clothes, tricks, videos, riders, teams, companies, graphics, art, music and more. Initially, street skating is dominated by burly: huge ollies down steps, onto handrails, over and off obstacles, big grinds and more.
But increasingly freestyle and street skating start to merge to unprecedented levels and flip-tricks soon become the mainstay of street skateboarding. Except for the most talented flip-masters, this proves a major headache for many skateboarders as ‘phat tricks, phat pants and phat attitudes’ soon rule and the skateboard industry and culture is almost unrecognisable to what it once was. Equipment changes almost overnight and everything becomes subject to short life-span at every level. The world of skateboarding becomes a melting-pot and by the mid-nineties ‘popsicles predominate’ whilst vertical riders are marginalised and ply their trade on the outskirts looking in. Street skateboarders dominate the industry as never before and street becomes ‘the thing’ many pursue without fail.
BOOK 3 ‘Embracing Adulthood as a Skateboarder’
It is a time of escaping Lincolnshire altogether for our skateboarder who is now 21 and regarded as ‘a man’ by the world around him. As such, he is consumed with finding his place in the world and consequently, skateboarding has slowly ebbed in importance in his life. His form of escape from everything he loathes about his home town is University. Again, the realities of surviving day-to-day pester him and force him to engage with ‘reality’; a world far away from the ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy lands’ he happily absorbed himself in as a youth and teenager despite his heart still lingering in the activity. Consciously he seeks change; to move forward in his life; to find place, purpose and a career; to shake off the shackles of youth. But he has no understanding of the eternal power of the ‘divine unconscious’ and does not realise that his ‘unconscious shadows’ will be with him wherever he goes. Indeed, his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ persist in speaking to him through external means but his unconscious amnesia and divine denial create only rejection of this truth. In an increased attempt to ask for his attention, his unconscious wounds intensify as never before.
Nevertheless, he begins with admirable positive intentions as he arrives at University and soon gets lost in ‘freshers’ and many of the pleasures that go with this; music, guitars, new friendships, and inevitably, skateboarding. He soon looses focus on the reality of why he went to University whilst his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ equally slowly-but-surely pull his life apart again in a call for his attention. In a bid to quell them, he resorts to behaviours previously unthinkable for him as a physically active and fit young man; again, the private life he leads in an attempt to manage his ‘original woundings’ stands is marked contrast to the day-to-day world he operates in.
Eventually, these simultaneous pressures finally explode with a severe accident and head trauma whilst skating and at last he is awoken to the reality that he is repeating old cycles that are ruining any chance of success he has at University. As such, he consciously applies himself as never before academically and seeks new avenues for physical health and well-being. Things seem to turn around for him at last with increased success at University and skateboarding slowly dies and becomes a world of ‘what once was’. Superficially he experiences genuine contentment and well-being in his life for the first time since finding skateboarding all those years ago; a bright future in academia appears to lie right in-front of him asking only his application and perseverance.
Despite this superficial, consciously initiated success, his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ remain and drive his behaviour in ways that are not sustainable or healthy. But now he is an adulthood standing on his own two feet and the demands of life, career, relationship, work and more have to be met, regardless of his channelling of ‘divine unconscious wounds’. Inevitably, by now, such is the depth and severity of his physical and divine woundings that his divine-mind-energy-matter complex completely breaks down at every level under the strain of ‘maintaining the pace’ and he almost dies. But to his horror, the world around him is also in deep denial and is loathed to accept his truth and severity of illness in his darkest hour. Left in no-man’s land with acute M.E, he fights tooth and nail to survive and make progress in the face of overwhelming medical and social denial, alienation, ignorance and scepticism.
A path that finally leads him to face his ‘divine unconscious shadows’ and inevitably, back to the world and culture of skateboarding. Indeed, he soon full-on embraces a solitary ‘boyhood skateboard fantasy land’ dominated by an empty MFI car park in Bristol that becomes his sanctuary for many years as the world carries on without a care for his well-being, and skateboard collecting resurrects his will to live and embrace his passion for skateboarding as never before and for the rest of his life. An activity that at last, he realises is for life, no matter what.
The world of skateboarding is predominated by popsicles as the mid-late 1990’s unfolds. The ‘phat pants, tiny wheel and football slick deck era’ is long gone and forgotten as skateboarders and skateboarding looks more like a sport than ever before. Blind replication of styles is the order of the day and the diversity that once existed in skateboarding is long gone. But this situation doesn’t last forever.
Street skateboarders take the flatland technical skills of early 90’s street skaters onto, off and over anything and everything they can find in urban environments whilst vertical riders make a come back with the ‘X-Games’ and the insane exploits of the likes of Danny Way and Tony Hawk. Skateboard collecting becomes massive and mainstream, Z-Boys influence current skateboard styles, and product diversity returns as skateboarding embraces a world for the young and older skater alike. Funny how things turn out hey!
I hope you enjoy reading the material and awaken to something much larger in the process. Djl 2014.
Transition and the material composing this project is copyrighted. No reproduction in any form is allowed without the permission of the author.