Halfway through and still rolling strong…
It is unfortunate that our society has relegated conceptions of role models, heroes, and “people you look up to” into a category of the inevitable: Oprah, our mothers, Jesus, and the token ironic ignorant rapper/boxer/character from a movie that you include in your Facebook profile. I never have, and never will be, bashful or embarrassed to tell the world that my hero is Michael Strobert.
Upon first glance, Michael may seem to be a regular guy. Well it’s true, he has his flaws just like everyone else. Before anything, his name is misleading. His nickname is “Switch,” but over the past seven or eight years, I have noticed him being a fan of riding on things with two wheels moreso than he has actually cared to ride on obstacles in his opposing stance. On numerous occasions, we have suggested that he consider changing his name to “Manual Mike,” but he quickly shoots down our suggestions, writing them off, despite the fact that “Manual Mike” is more accurate in relaying the sort of skateboarding he enjoys to partake in. Ironically, Michael employs his nickname outside of skateboarding, with little dispute from those who are more likely to assume “Switch” refers to a switchblade, or a potential switch in Michael’s walk that could be a non-chalant invite to homosexual street walkers of the night. But no, Switch does not carry a switchblade. Nor does he have a sexually enticing walk.
He does not know how to gamble, as evidenced by the thirty-second space between when he is up one hundred dollars at an Atlantic City blackjack table and the moment when he loses all of his hard-earned money on a single bet.
Nor does he make a lot of sense. Several times, Michael has insisted that food chains taste better outside of New York, and has undergone many aimless (and costly) journeys into New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to find a Sonic’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Ihop, etc. for food that he could just as easily find in the nine million restaurants in New York. He once told us to drive off of I-95 North, into any direction in Maryland, because he was “positive he had seen a Sonic’s in Maryland before.”
Furthermore, his management of finances will send any good-to-decent credit score having individual into a fit of head scratching. On one of the aforementioned voyages to Joe’s Crab Shack, Michael had the money to spend on food, but not the $50 necessary for renting the automobile so he could drive there. (Note: It was about seventy miles away.) He will oftentimes come out in cashmere J. Crew sweaters, but will inform us of the fact that he cannot afford to pay $40 for a new skateboard. He has also rented a car to go from his 96th Street apartment, to Haji’s on 110th Street, simply to purchase a three dollar sandwich. Bear in mind, the walk between these two locations is under ten minutes for any person under the age of eighty.
Why exactly would I call Switch Michael Strobert my hero if he has all of these traits that would commonly lead any other individual into spiral of debt, audits and loss of friends?
It is important to understand two facets of Michael Strobert’s brilliance — Switch Mike, the skateboarder and Michael Strobert, the philosopher.
Matthew Mooney (a former hero of mine, before he sold out) has been famously quoted saying, “Why don’t you learn how to kickflip instead of nollie bigflip?” in response to Michael’s frustration with skateboarding. Contrarily, the philosophy of cutting corners is what has lead Switch to be the amazing skateboarder he is today. If you give him a ledge, he will be able to nollie kickflip noseslide it before he can merely noseslide it, just like he can switch flip backside tailslide and cannot actually do a regular backside tailslide. If Switch had taken Young Matthew’s advice, he would in fact be another face in the TF, subjecting himself to the same generic nonsense that people deem it necessary to learn. Clearly, he has worked out a superior alternative.
Philosophizing is what Michael does when he is not skateboarding. He offers unbridled insight into everything from politics, where he called the election by citing Obama as “different,” and thus the invariable candidate for the job, to strib clubs and their more I’d-rather-bring-you-home-to-meet-my-family cousins, Hooters, by elaborating that, “Hooters is stupid, strip clubs are smart.” There is not a stone of philosophical thought that Michael’s mind has not left unturned, often churning out end-all observations that lead myself, and others to begin to wonder how we ever saw it any other way.
Perhaps if there is one persona of Michael to add depth to the two-halves that conjoin to form my personal role model, it is his automotive persona, Driver Mike. At 11:41 P.M. on New Year’s Eve, Michael arrived to pick up three individuals and myself in a two-door Mini Cooper with one person already in the car, after stating that he had “room” left. He then proceeded to do 90 down the FDR with “So Seductive” playing the background. 90 on the FDR during a major holiday is no small feat, but bear in mind that Michael’s standard speed on the Long Island Expressway is 120 miles per hour.
And frankly, his contributions to the Mind Field re-edit are unparalleled in any circles of spoken word poetry, chanting or electronica vocals. It is the closest the mainstream media has been able to enter the mind of Michael the philosopher, for who knows where Jason Dill would be today if he had taken Michael’s advice in 2000, “I’m not trying to skate, b. I’m trying to get it pop. I got this fuckin’ janitorial fuckin’ business I’m trying to get started, b.” My guess is Barack Obama would still be an obscure senator and Dill would be the new face of the Democratic party. That’s the sort of power Michael the philosopher has.
So, I salute you Michael Strobert, for without your presence, despite its inevitable stops at random out-of-state fast food chains, the world would be a dull place. And when one of my teachers or a field in a social networking site asks who my heroes are, or who I look up to, your name will be shining there in bright purple neon lights.
After many rave reviews following the circulation of the video on DVD-Rs, it is finally on the internet by popular demand.
Download from Mega Upload You need to sit through about 45-seconds before the link for a regular download appears, but it should download just as quickly as the Sendspace link.
I cannot put it up on Youtube because the majority of the music on it is copyrighted by Warner Brothers, who essentially has Youtube and Google video in a chokehold and disables the audio on pretty much any remotely popular song. And since I am not going to use the old excuse of “boo hoo rights are hard to get so I’m just going to edit the whole video to Animal Collective and singlehandedly the worst rap song ever since they are so down for the cause but at the same time put half of my audience to sleep,” I opted for other, lesser known hosting sites. Once again, you are much better off simply downloading the Quicktime file of the video from the links above.
But if you insist, an embedded video is after the jump.
This year, the Christmas clip features Leo Gutman, Keith Denley, Jake Johnson, Brendan Granstrand, Billy Rohan, DJ Roctakon, Thando Beschta, Miles Marquez, Matthew Mooney, Kevin Tierney, Ty Lyons, Pryce Holmes, Charles Lamb, Benjamin Nazario, Danny Weiss (!), Todd Jordan, Taji Ameen, Ryan Hickey and Switch Michael Strobert Sr. Contributed footage by Brengar, Justin White and Jeremy Scott Cohan.
Unfortunatley, we were unable to top the almost nine-minute mark of last year’s clip, largely due to weather related reasons, i.e. the fact that it snowed in December for the first time in about five years (or maybe I’m exagerrating). We still managed to pull of one last emergency session last night in upper-twenty degrees. I think there are less frontside shove-its in this clip than there were in last year’s. Shame.
Have a happy and safe Christmas.
New clip featuring Charles Lamb, Ben Nazario, Switch Michael Strobert, Matthew Mooney, Galen DeKemper, Miles Marquez, ravers, Thando Beschta, Isak Buan, Michael Gigliotti skating flat, Danny Weiss not landing anything and Ty Lyons. Contributing camera holder, Miles Marquez. The clip is a pretty significant achievement in that we did not leave Manhattan once in filming it.
Quote of the Week: “Hooters is stupid, strip clubs are smart.” – Switch Michael Strobert