Photo stolen from @mistaken_id on Instagram
As you likely heard, on Monday, current subscribers to Transworld received notice that March / April 2019 would be the magazine’s final print issue. And in what made me initially think they had to be trolling, the remainder of everyone’s subscriptions would be replaced by issues of Men’s Journal. Associate editor, Mackenzie Eisenhour, wrote on Instagram that TWS would continue producing digital content, though he will no longer be with the mag.
I sat for a couple of days thinking what to write about the #2 Skateboard Magazine’s demise (which spent some years as the #1 Skateboard Magazine, depending on who you ask) without only veering into nostalgia that has very little to do with how we got here, and without “print is dead! long live print!”-isms. The average 2019 skateboarder’s attitude to legacy media can be summed up as “I’m happy magazines exist” at best — and that is simply a symptom of where media and our collective attention spans are now.
Paul Rodriguez has a couple 100k more Instagram followers than TWS does. Nyjah has twice that amount. We all understand that everyone is their own media outlet now.
But what is a skateboard magazine, or any magazine, for that matter? Right down to the operative nuts and bolts, it is a collective of people tied together by a desire to tell stories about something they are passionate about. Every day is spent coming up with stories, ideas, jokes. If you don’t give a shit about it, you probably won’t be doing it for very long. Fake-it-til-you-make-it runs rampant in our culture, but faking it within a group of people who truly, really care is impossible. No media company is perfect — and it gets draining how disproportionately negative content resonates over positive — but what if every story is told only by the participants? Every biography is an autobio, and every question is one they only think to ask themselves.
Ever since I first opened a Transworld, one of their most resonant features has been “Last Words.” Speaking from experience, some (not all!) skateboarders are impossible to interview. Whether it’s two-word answers, not making the effort, or memories impaired by decades of weed, getting someone in the skate industry to open up to you can begin to feel like squeezing water from a rock.
“Last Words” was special because it was disarming. Someone existing in a hyper-testosterone world like skateboarding answering “Last time you cried?” or “Last time you said ‘I love you?'” says more about that person in a couple words than a “How did you get your first sponsor?” story. Even the conscious choice to always run a portrait instead of a skate photo put the human being, not the pro skateboarder, forward.
Best of all, everyone can fill out a “Last Words.” Something about the simplicity of it being the last piece in the mag, and the finite-ness of how the questions were presented made people let their guard down. It was full of things that the interviewees would never publicly dwell on themselves — if not provoked by that third party tasked with storytelling.
If you truly believe that adage about a skateboard being a tool to experience the world in a different way than everyone else, maybe the time-tested power of the written word should be given the same weight we allot to communicating those experiences with videos and photos.
Massive thanks to Chops @ Chromeball for scanning the first five on super short notice. Thanks to Google image search for the newer Dill and Austyn ones.
Thank you TWS for shining a light on plenty now-ubiquitous names in our little corner of the skateboard world. They were the first major magazine giving props to a still-in-college Cyrus, running Palace tour articles, being an American publication covering Sour, or even asking QS to contribute something in print ♥
Much love to the staff as they flip to the next chapter.