Summer Reading* Round-Up: Love, That’s A Crazy One & A Skateboarding Annual 3

August 2nd, 2017 | 5:00 am | Features & Interviews | 1 Comment

*Asterisk because two out of three of these blurbs are for photo books, with one of them (the first one) having probably less than a thousand words overall. Anyway, all three of these came out over the course of the past few months, and all of them deserve your time, especially as August grinds the skateboard news cycle to a near halt. Shout out to everyone putting cool shit on pieces of paper and sharing it with the rest of the world, whether it’s a ‘zine, a book or whatever the hell else ♥

Love — Paradigm Publishing

Love is less a book of skate photos, and more a visual essay of what skateboarding looks like when it’s forced to become a form of protest.

Jonathan Rentschler’s book tells the story of Love Park’s final years — a period most visibly represented by Brian Panebianco’s Sabotage series — in black and white photographs. Love was the first time I felt genuine anger while looking through a book about skateboarding: anger at the cops raising up skateboards in smiley triumph as the confiscate them, anger at police officers pulling people by the hair after they throw them to the ground, anger at the politicians attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the park’s destruction, who will no doubt spend as little time in its remodeled incarnation as they did when they were leading a stubborn crusade against the thing giving it life. These images are interjected with a portrait of the community that corralled in a place they were told was not for them. This is not limited to the skaters, but also fringes of society who those same faces of civil service often prefer to ignore.

Book Review: ‘Shit’ — The Big Brother Book

February 26th, 2016 | 2:54 am | Features & Interviews | 7 Comments

shit the big brother book 1

Skateboarders are nostalgic, and it’s hard to think of something as endlessly mourned since its demise as Big Brother. There have been tribute Instagram accounts, promises of the entire archive’s digitization, four-figure eBay listings of the full collection, and Dave Carnie even published a 700-page book of his writing from it.

Shit, released by DC Shoes, is a 224-page hardcover book that chronicles the 1992-2004 run of Big Brother magazine, and costs about $950 less than buying every issue at online auction. Sparing intros and an epilogue where eight principal editorial members reflect on their time at the magazine, the book consists of two-page spreads for every one of Big Brother‘s 106 issues. Each spread has the cover, the issue’s quotes section, and a scrapbook collage with highlights. Alongside the covers are behind-the-scenes stories from Sean Cliver and Dave Carnie, who split the blurb duties 53 / 53. It is remarkable how much information they retain from every issue’s creation. The full history of the publication plays out over the course of the book, and in many ways, coincides with the grander story of skateboarding’s resurgence into popularity throughout the nineties.

Book Review: The Accidental Playground

November 27th, 2013 | 7:00 am | Features & Interviews | 12 Comments

the accidental playground

As D.I.Y. spots have become more common over the past decade, the Brooklyn Volcano remains an anomaly. It was the first New York spot of its kind, and existed in a place that could have hypothetically grown into something the size of a skatepark. Given the route real estate has taken throughout the Bloomberg years, it will likely be the last of its sort. New York D.I.Y. spots are now one-offs in spaces that could not accommodate a full, skater-made skatepark.

Daniel Campo’s The Accidental Playground is a case study of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT), a onetime freight loading yard. The BEDT was home to the Volcano, a photogenic D.I.Y. spot overlooking the Manhattan skyline, seen in any skate magazine from the early 2000s. Campo is a former New York city planner and an architecture professor at Morgan State University. He is an advocate of “unplanned” public space, and writes The Accidental Playground to discuss the merits of when cities do not get involved with the recreational lives of their citizens, allowing them to “make their own environment.” These sort of spaces present a “get your hands dirty” alternative to the “manicured” nature of a Central or Prospect Park.

Compared to the restrictions faced in official parks, the BEDT was practically lawless within reason. Recreational use of the space was pioneered by dog walkers fed up with leash laws, but eventually gave way to a range of characters with interests that were not accommodated by other nearby parks. This included artists, a punk marching band, undocumented day laborers who could not procure on-the-books housing, and neighborhood residents who wanted to drink a beer outside without worry of an open container ticket. Campo considers skateboarding to have been the most sophisticated use of the space, though each group is afforded its own chapter in the book.

Recent Skate Book Round-Up: A Room With No Windows, DIY & Better If You Don’t Come Back

April 3rd, 2013 | 5:30 am | Features & Interviews | 4 Comments

book round up

Written by Galen Dekemper

The previous months have brought three worthwhile additions to the skate literature canon. I present these reviews in order of least skateboarding content to the most.

A Room With No Windows by Scott Bourne (1980 Editions)

The easiest thing to say is that this book is amazing. From Scott Bourne’s “Black Box” columns in Slap Magazine, to his video parts and more recent poetry books, the man has shown a serious dedication to quality across a variety of media. A Room With No Windows is Bourne’s first novel and one that is fully worth the decade of anticipation that preceded its publication. Bourne notes in the introduction that he writes to release himself from shame. To this end, Bourne casts himself the main character in a story that is as impressive in its introspection as in its illumination of other people and places. With alcohol as a “seasoning for sin,” a single man explores the differences between love and sex while coming to understand San Francisco’s geography based on the different neighborhoods where he wakes up after going home with women. He makes these beds when he leaves them, seeks a cup of coffee and a park, then wanders back to the Webster Street apartment where he resides throughout the novel. There is a beautiful passage about installing a door that provides slightly more light into Bourne’s windowless room.

Book Review: Tough Like You by Soma Fuller

January 18th, 2013 | 7:28 am | Features & Interviews | 18 Comments

tly-final2

Written by Galen Dekemper

The good thing about that night was that I made out with a 45-year-old divorcée. The bad thing was my terrible hangover the next morning. Against hindsight’s judgment, I went straight to a perilous spot, even though it was cold and there was snow on the ground, because I had shoveled it clear the previous day. I wanted to skate this flat bar to drop before I left town.

My eventual goal was a switch front board slide, but I found the rail slicker than anticipated on my first regular boardslide attempt. My board shot forward while my body descended straight down. I was aware that my penis was approaching the end of this rail and changed my body to avoid contact. I touched ground with my left foot first, then felt my left knee bend incorrectly as my body weight compressed down. Pain indicated the mishap and I kept saying “fuck” as I bent my knee to test. I eventually walked around some and got in the car, but I knew that my life had just changed. After a spring of continuing to twist my knee, an MRI confirmed my torn left ACL. On July 7, 2011, I took a left ACL replacement surgery, the same surgery I had on my right knee five years earlier.

An additional surgery on December 7 to trim my torn meniscus was a further complication, but I used adult strength and previous experience with ACL recovery to help me heal as well as possible. My physical therapist and I developed daily exercise programs that built muscle while also allowing time for rest and recovery between all activity. Being on one’s feet at all is an activity after surgery. As I strategized for an optimal recovery, a convenient retweet from Josh Kalis led me to Tough Like You by Soma Fuller. Fuller is a senior writer at Focus magazine and Tough Like You is fruit of his 20 years of studying skating, healing and injury prevention.