Skateboards and Hollywood

There’s this moment, right before stumbling off your board, where you ask yourself, “Really? Did I have to try and get fancy right here right now? Were the potential flair points really worth the mouthful of gravel I’m about to eat?”

Then you’re falling.

Then you’re meeting asphalt.

Mucho gusto.

Tucking, rolling, sliding, anything you can do to keep the wounds surface-level only, because you’d rather not test the limits of your paltry health insurance.

I throw in a prayer, too: please dear sweet Jesus I hope nobody saw that…

“Hey man, you alright?” a man on the sidewalk asked, trying hard not to laugh too loud. Failing to do so.

“Gotta love it,” I replied, my voice suave and steady as I scrapped myself off the ground, and chased my board which was skittering down the street.

In the past I avoided such moments by skating solely at night, when no one could see my bumbling. Or if they did, they wouldn’t recognize my face in the daylight, and would be unable to banish me back to the darkness where I belonged with looks of contempt. There is something embarrassing about being a 25-year-old man-child putzing around on a skateboard — if you’re skating at that age, there’s this expectation that you worked out the kinks when you were young and foolish enough to believe transportation on a plank resting atop four wheels was a valid mode of transportation.

Except I started skating at 24, only after I moved out to Los Angeles. So when I see the young and fearless skaters, attacking the street or vert or their new trick, I can’t help but resent the little assholes and their 20-year head start.

I started my Hollywood writing career the same time I started skating. My first lesson was, whatever you do, don’t admit you want to write. I interned with a management company, and kinda sorta fibbed about my desire to get into management and being an agent, so executives wouldn’t pass me off as just “another writer.” When people asked why I moved to Los Angeles, I gave pat answers: for the weather, a change of pace, etc. I pursued writing like a prepubescent teen pursues masturbation: alone, in secret, with hands furiously working in the dark. Looking back, this might have stifled my creativity but in the long run it’s not a bad move. Strange as it is to move 3,000 miles and not admit the real reason why, it’s a chore to distinguish yourself from the other millions of 25-year-olds with a whole lot of aspiration and dream, but no credits.

The more skating I watched, the more I noticed that what distinguished a skater from the pack wasn’t their execution of this trick or that move, but how they expressed themselves with their skating. The skaters who drew my attention were the ones who said something every time they stepped on the board. Because once everyone reached a certain level, they all possessed the same arsenal of tools at their disposal, and it was how they used those tools that distinguished themselves from the rest. It was more than transportation, more than a spectacle. It was art.

The only way to reach that level is admitting you’re going to take it seriously. That means pursuing your art in the daylight, and being willing to be judged by your work. You have to put it out there. You have to perform, right in the middle of the road, where anyone can see you fall.

Photo Credit: fish’s box

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