Book Review: Tough Like You by Soma Fuller

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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.

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Book Review: On a Day With No Waves – A Chronicle of Skateboarding by Raphaël Zarka

If the act of skateboarding is a universal language, then does a skateboarder need to know how to speak, let alone decipher the meaning of text?Inquisitive Gentleman

I now leave to the magazines, to the growing number of documentaries, blogs and the internet in general, the task of completing and filling out the gaps in this project.Raphaël Zarka

Review by Galen Dekemper

The methods of product presentation and transmission are important in a multimedia age. In 2011 one can easily curate a history of skateboarding through video clips. The writer realizes that these video relics show skateboarding to be an act unparalleled in self-containment and visual definition. Filmed video parts are mimicry far more exact than what the writer can endeavor to shape with his words. Yet as the endless amount of footage expands to the point where there is more skateboarding online than pornography, the oeuvre grows nearly as difficult to navigate as the three levels of Central Park Hubba. Still one feels compelled to attempt success in the face of likely failure. Spirited conversation and literacy prove helpful as a way of determining what’s really good. One learns to trust one’s suppliers.

To examine skateboard literature into and beyond the industry canon of magazine writing is an autodidact’s game. Superstars have penned their life tales. Someone in Texas has channeled Justin Pierce’s ghost. The occasional coffee table edition may include a worthwhile introduction. To be aware of Skateboarding, Space and the City, by Iain Borden, shows that one has reached a plateau of skateboard reading. Due to the rarity of books in comparison to other skateboard media, the appearance of a new skateboarding book merits attention. With On a Day With No Waves: A Chronicle of Skateboarding, Mr. Zarka has chosen to document skateboarding’s history in a 230 year timeline.

There is pleasure to be found in reading Zarka’s chronicle in its entirety, as history does exist and ideas emerge through connections in linear time. In George Orwell’s 1984, a misled character claims that books are good to the extent that they reinforce thoughts the reader already believed. This chronology refutes such a claim, as the book is as its best when it prompts one to look beyond its pages, to perform research of one’s own on a subject of interest, much in the way a good skate video sends one outside, firecrackering off the curb, ready to do some tricks of one’s own.

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