I Usually Got Those: A Manifesto For Sucking After a Long Winter
By Theodore Barrow
Aaah, winters in New York. As the seasons change, the auburn leaves of summer turn into a golden brown and ultimately fall off, heads be makin’ crazy jacket moves. Lo (as in PoLo) cats dust off the old oilskin jackets for a wicked noreaster, and as the leaves of autumn litter the ground, the ironic and downright offensive (PLO) scarves of hipsters and highschool girls alike come out in full blossom like it ain’t even funny.
So what do you do if you skate? Nothing. Sit at the shop. Make claims. Talk shit. You know, nothing much changes. Oh, except you don’t skate, because if you do leave the safe haven of the skate shop, you are assaulted with bone-chillingly awful winds that cut like a knife and sting like a shotgun blast, and if you think it’s fun trying nollie flips with your private parts shriveled up like a raisin, then just remind yourself that this is only November and you have four more months of this shit! It hasn’t even started snowing yet.
First snow. The whole city is covered in a quiet white blanket of beautiful powder. It’s heaven. For about half a day. Then it turns into gray sludge and petrified piss. As winter progresses, the gray sludge turns into black ice, deadly black ice. Thinking about skating is a wrap. The last contact you had with your skateboard was a month ago when you tripped over it in your room, which is dark because you sit in it all day and cry while staring at candles.
“But,” you think, “there are warehouses in Brooklyn and it’s only a subway ride away…” and then you think “but then there is Lit, and that’s only a subway ride away, and there are girls there with layers of stylish accouterments, and all the warehouse offers is territorial mid-life crisis-having skaters and young and hungry ams playing skate. Fuck that,” you think, “I’m going to LIT!” Repeat this pattern for three months at least.
Eventually spring does come. Little by little, the black ice melts away to reveal rusty curbs and cracked asphalt, the hipsters shed their scarves (sometimes) and the Lo cats retire their buttery gear and break out the ghetto gowns. All of a sudden Rob Campbell’s pneumatic and shirtless physique seems appropriate. Well, sort of. Anyway, it’s no longer bone-chillingly cold, and slowly but surely you creep out of your caves, looking not completely unlike Gollem.
The first day back is an awkward one. You stand there above your skateboard staring at it puzzled and scratching your head like it’s supposed to be telling you something that you’re not understanding. Meanwhile, all the hungry ams and middle-aged warehouse gnomes are skating circles around you. This can be quite disconcerting, you are faced with a potentially impenetrable maze of anguish and humiliation, but there is a way out.
Repeat after me: I. Usually. Got. Those.
With the budding blossoms of spring come a plethora of excuses, but you need not pay heed to any more than the above four words, and this is why:
Can’t land that nollie flip that you gave up on last November because you were shivering in your boots? Don’t worry about it, “I usually got those.”
Did a 12-year-old just beat you at S.K.A.T.E. doing nothing more than shove-its? “I usually got those.”
The best thing about this saying is that it is a double edged sword, not only is it a fool proof excuse for yourself but, said with the right oomph, you can totally son your boy who is struggling with the same tricks that you have been. Nothing will hurt your friend more as he’s sitting there jackknifed on the ground after landing primo for the umpteenth time then you saying “Damn, bro, don’t you usually got those?” It’s like you’re empathizing with him but you’re not. Just excellent. Or, you can also use it in a more blatant way, as your boy bails on another hardflip, you stare blankly at him and say “I usually got those” and offer no further explanation. Don’t even try the trick now, because you’ve made it clear that there is no need. Why? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because “I usually got those!”
Of course, another solution, if you’re not into the whole contact-with-people thing just yet, is to find new spots. Springtime does open that possibility up. Since everything isn’t covered in arctic refuse, you can pile into the car and search for new, edgy-looking, out of the way ledges. Look at it this way: you may not be able to land that backside nosegrind on the wooden box with angle iron that everyone skates at the TF, and it’s getting a little embarrassing now because the kid who couldn’t noseslide last summer (who you always chided for wearing purple KR3W leggings) just did a textbook kickflip backside noseblunt slide on it just now. What do you do? Find that edgy looking spot and flaunt your nosegrind there. It’s a pretty simple formula. The gritty, industrial outer-boroughs of any city are chock-full of gnarly-looking spots that are obscenely easy to skate. Most of them have angle iron on them, and they’re usually not more than two stairs high, which nobody will notice in the photo because they’re distracted by the graffiti and broken bricks or bushes that surround the ledge. ‘No parking tow-away zone’ stencils are always nice, as are perhaps the occasional crack-head or oblivious pedestrian. Nothing says “yo, I’m: a) redefining the gritty urban wasteland b) a windswept urban jungle safari explorer c) sensitive ponytail Brooklyn wander because I’m too embarrassed to skate a wooden bench at the TF” like a black and white photo of a backside nosegrind on a loading dock ledge surrounded by broken glass and trash. I will advance the theory here that those skaters who always seem to find new and obscure spots do so not so much because they are “inspired by the urban landscape” or whatever, but more because they have extreme social-anxiety disorder and can’t be around younger kids that are better than them. It’s just a theory, though.
Another favorable result of the spot-searching mission is the smug, self-satisfied tone you can take with the other skaters you see at the bar that night. It’s like “oh, you spent all day skating perfect ground and a ledge built for skating? That’s cool. Me? I was in the Bronx, getting creative and skating rugged-ass spots…changed my whole outlook on shit, no big deal…” then you give them that psycho glare so that they know what’s really real.
Clearly it’s quality over quantity here, and while these young-bucks were training on a box learning Haslam tricks all day, you were driving 3 hours to pose a trick that you’ve been doing for 15 years. If you keep it up, you may have potential legend-status going for you. Maybe a shoe on Converse.
And that, my friends, is the tried and true formula for keeping up the mystique while steadily falling off. It starts with the tactful declaration of “I usually got those” which is fool proof enough, but can easily be bolstered further by the fright flight spot mission into the cutty industrial wasteland of photogenic art-gnarl spots. Just make sure your absence is known. If it’s not too late, try it this spring and summer, and if not, just remember it for next winter.