Unity Unity Unity

i've always liked the saying "nostalgia is the enemy of progress". i am not a robot though (man wouldn't that be cool though) and so fall prey to the throws of nostalgia from time to time.  The artist in me, the skateboarder in me, the snowboarder in me, the scientist in me, and the tech geek in me all love watching things progress and evolve.  i feel like we all should be pushing at the edges of things and testing our own limits. Unfortunately, a side effect (one of many i fear) of getting older is an increase in those odd nostalgic attacks.  When bands i love get popular i am always happy that they can finally make a living doing what they love, but nostalgia can kick in and i find myself missing the days of seeing them in tiny clubs with 200 people or less.  There's that selfishness of when they felt more like "my band" or when we'd all sing arm in arm between circle pits.  But that's progress.  My brain knows they all deserve success but sometimes my heart loses perspective. Damn nostalgia.

i know i've written many times about skateboarding's (and snowboarding's) growing pains and the many positives and negatives it goes through but my recent nostalgia concerning skateboarding has revolved upon the loss of unity. When running/working a skate shop you become, much like a bar tender, a confidant of those who grace your establishment.  i quite enjoy that role but unfortunately sometimes the tales told to me are of unfortunate occurrences.  The more people you have involved, of course, the more difficult it is to keep everyone on good terms. i understand that everyone has varying tastes and that's why we have so many different skate companies and terrain types but there seems to be such a sense of schism within skating now.  Skatespots are starting to get clicky and parks are starting to see attitudes pop up that previously were left in schoolyards.

There are a few ways to deal with this as far as i can tell:

1- Get old like me.  It seems that with every year on this Earth you find yourself caring less about what other people think of you. As i near 4 decades on this rock i really don't give a shit what you think of me.  At this point i know i'm not very good at skating but i'm having way more fun than you are. i always bring my board when i travel and got over worrying about what locals might think at spots around the world and just hit anything i can wherever i am.  There's no fast track for this method, so if you're a teenager this will not help you in the immediate future.

2- Konichiwa! There is a very famous snowboarder that i really didn't want to like. Then i met him. He is such a great fucking dude!  More often than not i've found this to be true.  Once you actually talk to someone it's a hell of a lot harder to hate on them. Just say hi! i know for us solitary and introverted characters that can be hard but hey, this is our scene we're talking about.  You've got to put a little effort into it. If you always took the easy way out you wouldn't be skateboarding so i know you are capable of pushing yourself.  See someone around frequently enough and say hi to them enough times, at some point you'll end up talking.  It's all good from there on out. No matter how different from you they may seem you all have skateboarding in common and that's a pretty big thing to have in common.

3- Teachable Moment. That grom that keeps dropping in on you or who's practicing his ollie right in front of that rail you want to hit... that once was you. You didn't come out of your mum's vagina the skater you are today.  Some older punk came up to you and talked to you and taught you the ways of the board.  Instead of bitching to you friends go up to that kid and explain to him the etiquette of taking turns dropping in. Go up, give them a couple pointers to help them improve, and then recommend a better spot around for them to practice what they're doing.  You'll become their hero, they'll get better, and you'll have the run you want to hit free and clear.  As a kid i always admired any of the older skaters that would talk to me and because of that i would be more mindful of not being in their way. (if they are on scooters however, swear away... there's no hope for them)

Skateboarding is ours.  If it's great it's because of us, and if it sucks it's because of us. Take ownership of this thing that we love so much and help make it and keep it the amazing thing we know it to be. Like Operation Ivy said oh so long ago: Unity Unity Unity!

-tom