In conversations around the shop lately i've found myself referring to NOW as the "Golden Age of Skateboarding" on many occasions. i completely stand by this statement. In one instance, a notable Maine skater of a similar age to me (whom i thoroughly enjoy hearing his perspective on things, he's seen a lot) pointed out what a bold statement that was, especially considering all the eras we've both seen. He's right, and i think that made me believe it even more than before.
i started skating in the 80's, skated throughout the 90's, 00's, and now the 10's. Yup, i'm old. Frequently we hear people reminiscing the good old days and making claims of things being so much better when they were kids. Not skateboarding, not on my watch. Today is surely not the golden age of my personal skating. My vertical leap decreases every year (more of a vertical hop now). i currently spend more time on my board trying not to lose tricks than actually learning new ones. These days when i go down i tend to stay down for a bit longer than before and the getting back up can take a little longer as well (and with a few more noises). But skateboarding is definitely in it's Golden Age from my perspective.
As i look at the board wall of my shop i see widths from 7.75 to 10+. i see popsicle sticks, re-releases, shovel noses, hips, punk points, heat transfers, screened layers, stains, dips, clean Photoshop images and hand-drawn graphics. Everything goes! It is absolutely beautiful! As you can imagine, with that diversity in decks we're also seeing wheels from 48mm to 63 in all kinds of profiles, shapes, and hardness as well as all the truck sizes needed to accommodate the various board widths. Such a wonderful thing indeed.
In the 80's everyone made fun of us skateboarders, and we made fun of the freestylers with their skinny boards. In the 90's ramp skaters were seen as lame, as was anyone with a shaped board, pants that couldn't be used to smuggle families over the boarder, and wheels that did anything but cover your bearings. As the jocks of the 00's learned what a kickflip was by playing video games, skateboarding (although more popular than ever before) broke up into all kinds of factions from sporty X-gamers to getto swag to mall moon-booters to emo-gothers and none of them wanted to mix with any other crew.
Skateboarding is super progressive and hyper artistic. These characteristics have helped shape the culture and kept things innovative. As a style starts to become viewed as "too popular" or picked up by mainstream America, skateboarders quickly move to explore other options while maintaining our root style. Sometimes we've done this more gracefully than others but self expression is not without it's hiccups. You can't even truly break skateboarding up into decades because within a 10 or even 5 year span so much was going on and things were changing so quickly.
Nostalgia may cause one to celebrate the earlier days with their bros hitting ledges around town or backyard mini-half days of their innocent youth but fuck nostalgia. In time everything seems better than it was (like that time your friend tore his anus falling on the incredibly grippy concrete of the only pool ever drained in your area that was semi-skate-able; funny now but so scary then). Having a hick in a pickup yell "do a kickflip" is way better than when they used to throw beer cans at your head in the 90's as they drove by, which was better than when they used to unload from the truck in the 80's and you'd be fighting a cab full of red-necks. Nope, make sure you cut that "good old days" shit with an even dose of reality.
Today is the Golden Age of Skateboarding! Tranny skaters and street skaters all can hang out together. The guy with rails on his board, the kid in the 5-panel, and the girl skating in yoga pants can all play a game of skate down at the local park. Workpants, tie-dyes, coach's jackets, classic hoodies, they all sit next to each other catching their breath. Tanned, tattooed, $100 cupsoles, $50 vulcs, all filming each other. i have NEVER seen this much diversity in skateboarding all at the same time and it warms the cockles of my heart.
As spit comes flying out of my mouth while i snarl and mumble about skateboarding in the Olympics, deep down i know that everything will be all right. Because once something happens, skateboarding's over it already. At some point a tiny pebble has taught each of us that you can't look behind you, only forward.