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Tricks Are For Kids April 9, 2009

Posted by dailyegg in 1.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is rich with skateboarders. They tend to congregate in the evenings, either right before or right after they’ve downloaded the obligatory meals served to them by their parental units. What’s striking about them is their easygoing, even sanguine acceptance of the brutally repetitive task that stands before them.

For the longest time what they were trying to do escaped me entirely: What I rather randomly observed looked to me like a lot of deliberate jumping, missing, and falling.  Boredom, I thought,  run amok.

But I was wrong. Bigger game runs afoul here.

As it turns out, what attracts these predominately male teens is not— as it was in the skateboard culture of my youth—the length of the slope and the smoothness of the asphalt. 

Instead, they gather here to confront an edge of granite about two feet high and twelve feet long, the base, essentially, of  a veteran’s monument that was erected nearly century ago. It is here on this edge of stone that these kids work out the status of who’s who and what’s what, apparently.

So, on behalf of all of those weathering their entry into the latest crisis of determining circumstances, I’d like to introduce you to The Ollie. The Slide.  The Goofy. The 5-0. The Bail.

Here’s an entry  from Wikipedia (brace yourself): 

       “The Ollie is an aerial skateboardiing trick invented by Alan ‘Ollie’ Gelfand in 1978. When doing an ollie the skateboarder leaps into the air bringing the board into the air without using their hands. The board appears to magically lift with the feet remaining in contact with the board throughout the jump.”  


So, like, are you on to me?  Who are these kids, right?  What sort of shamanistic athleticism are they pursuing here? 

Do you care?   You should .  . .

Because when I searched the Internet for “Grinding” I got 20 pages on cutlery and sleep disorders . . . But that’s not why you should care. First, the definition:

“Grinding occurs when the skateboard is launched in such a way that only the trucks of the board are making contact with the curb or rail or bench or base or coping. . . or for that matter any feasible surface.”  

That’s the real issue here, you see: reclaiming the formerly unfeasible. Taking the cleverly adaptive, and making it outrageous. Ridiculous. Irresistible.

(Note per claim: in the world of skateboarding, capital-F feasibility is a matter of—to put it delicately—gumption—a.k.a., the artist formerly known as Pure Balls. Because potentially anything—anything— could be perceived as a feasible surface. If you’ve got the PB-factor)

In other words, I’d like to see you attempt to grind a kickass rail. . .

Once more: Dude! 

 Let’s takes a moment now to appreciate how cleverly status, and its handmaiden, striving, can manifest itself. . . often—and ridiculously, no?—in the oddest places.

And I mean that in a good way.

 . . . As if you didn’t already know,  a “Slide” is similar to the “Grind”—both eschew wheels—but not—why aren’t we surprised?—sexual conotations. 

 Don’t laugh, because . . . In this case, however, it’s the actual board—your board—that’s making all that  scrupulous, crushing contact with the feasible edge. 

Like all things intensely brief and risky and necessary, it’s a transcendent moment. Think of It. . .

The Board Itself. Try it as a mantra. Om. The Board Itself.

 If you can’t do that, think: Formalism in painting—kids doing this crazy-looking trick, so banal it’s. . . beatific. 

No?  Still cold?

 In the case of skateboarding, it’s the board you’re riding now—all that bestickered wood on the flipside of your feet—and what you’re basically  doing is hijacking the ride from the wheels. . .  

Okay?  You dig?  Style—right?  Over . . . Ontology?

“. . . Heavy shit, conceptually speaking,” my friend [deleted for privacy] said, hoping I wouldn’t press her to make sworn testimony thereof. **

 And speaking of testimony, what else but the most chilled idealism would bother to conjure, for instance, a riding posture known as The Goofy (aka Goofy Stance, Goofy-Foot, (Foofy Goot in kindergartenese)) a position that means riding while the left foot—no, the other left!—is planted on the tail of the board.


As the name might suggest, this is just the opposite of what most people do. You know, those upper-board left-footers who partake verily  in “The Regular.”

Goofy-footed or Regular you can still do a “5-0” (Five-Oh?)—when the nose of the skateboard is up in the air a little—regardless of your prior tail-nose inclinations. 

Which, depending on your speed/control/skill, may or may not result in a Bail. A Bail can mean a few different things—but first and foremost is  “You fucked up.”  It can refer to a skater landing safely on his or her feet after failing at a trick. (Ring any bells, anyone?)

Likewise, a “Bail” can also mean “chickening out.” 

Needless to say this often results in a crash (ahem). Where the skater does not catch his or her feet—and gets hurt.  (Check the unemployment numbers.)

“Often painfully and/or humorously,” the authors note.

Footwork crucial? Sure. It might miss the board. 

But it wont miss you.

For Example, take The Fakie 

 You probably could have predicted this, but a ‘Fakie’ means—just to be clear—”riding a skateboard backwards from the way you normally would ride it.”

Which also means, per same entry:  “[that] Usually the skater’s back foot is on the tail of the board.” 

Not to get too picky here but isn’t the rider’s back foot always on the tail of the board?   Hellooooo?  How ’bout getting a tattoo that says WAKE THE FUCK UP

Or maybe it’s time to start wearing that helmet. 🙂

Just kidding, right?

 (“Alert! Though the name ‘Fakie’ might sound like the skateboarder is trying to do something weak, tricks done while riding Fakie are a lot harder for most skateboarders [to pull off than what you might think].”)

Caveat Emptor? Or another insinuation of “attracting the best talent”?


 “Skateboard is not simply a solo experience for an age when solo style means everything!”

 “It’s the new Behavioral Formalism!”

 “Because skaters are anti-instrumentalists, they are putting the purpose back in pointlessness. . .”

  “You join other skaters not by actually joining in with everyone but” —subject smiles—” by becoming a master of your own footwork.” 

 Righteousness noted.

 You now reside in the kingdom of stokedom.

Just one of the many things you demonstrate to all your friends and rivals as they stand in line waiting their turn to Grind. Or Slide. Or Indy. Or Backslide. Or Kickflip. 

Into the new normal.



(**Sworn: for instance intending to claim that there is something in the habit of these trick-attempting waiting-my-turn lines that is deeply reflective of something basic in cultural conceptions regarding group-permanence strategies, as it were, that represents a fairly standard rejection of adulthood iterations—usefulness, safety, economic reward, etc.—while at the same time being representative of a positive immersion in a developmentally rewarding adolescent milleu—a concentrated  dedication to pursue perceived merit and status—and like all worthy adolescent enchantments, involves a lot of the diversionary thumbing of the nose to any sort of commitment to the obviously adult. Oddly enough, despite the crack-open-your-head perilousness involved in each ollie up to the edge, languor—or some species of wry/rueful calmness—appears to be the ruling emotion. 

Thesis that Skate Kids are somehow like shadow counterparts to Wall Street Traders wearing a little thin? Consider: what more ingenious solution to the question of how to maximize skateable surfaces in a hyper-urban environment could there be than the Grind and the Slide? What more ingenious solution to the problem of maximizing the profit potential of lame financial products than to have them bundles as securities—thereby increasing the perception that they possess a feasible edge?)



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