Warning: this is an essay about skateboarding. It's kind of philosophical

Skateboarding is a struggle. And I don't mean that only in the literal sense, the sense of trying a trick repeatedly until you make it or the strain you put on your body during hours of skating, I also mean it in a broader sense. Because if skateboarding is something you've identified with for a formidable portion of your life, it tends to stay with you and relate to almost every aspect of it. Hence, skateboarding is a struggle because it puts you at odds with yourself, with your surroundings, with economy, with politics, with typical everyday interactions.

In a recent interview, Jake Johnson said that "It’s hard to remain a child in a culture of adults. You start to judge yourself for it." He was referring to how skateboarding is a sort of childish "disease" and once you're infected with it, it affects every way that you think and act. I think we are referring to similar things by labeling skateboarding with negative connotations. It's not that skateboarding is inherently bad, it's just that it sits in this complete grey-area of life, never quite fitting into one realm or the other.

Take, for example, the constant debate about skateboarding in business. Skateboarding, as a romantic ideal, is a huge hook used in advertising and media, and is being hotly pursued by the largest athletics companies. Look at the new Palace x Adidas line, or the Polar x Converse shoes, or the fact that Nike has quite successfully made the most popular skate shoe ever, the Janoski pro model. As skaters, we often sit on two sides of the fence on this issue, the skater-owned vs. big business fight, but I don't think we realize how so much of our behaviour as skaters exists between these two worlds. We don't really belong in one or the other, but we don't really belong in both. We sit between worlds. Skateboarding is a sub-cultural purgatory.

The new "Manhattan Days" video by Polar, which was produced and created as a promotional tool for the new Converse collaboration shoes, is a perfect example. Perhaps it's biased of me to say, but I think this is a video that can be enjoyed by skaters and non-skaters, alike. I mean, this is perhaps the first skate clip I've watched in recent memory where I gave it my full attention, did not skip or stop watching before it finished, and had a smile on my face the entire time. It was great. Because I know that feeling. The feeling of doing things on your own agenda with a group of like-minded people, moving through a city and making an event out of a situations and environments which most of the time were meant to accommodate transportation or commerce, not creative, collaborative acts of self-expression. And this is why skateboarding is a struggle, because as a video clip, that's what you perceive. You perceive the spontaneity and the fun and all the good vibes and freeness that skateboarding brings -- and that makes you want to buy their shit. But to most onlookers or passer-bys on the street, at that moment in time, skateboarding is an inconvenience and is bothersome. It is a group of young men disobeying laws, tarnishing private property, and acting outside the expected norm. For most people, it's a nuisance.

I think that, this divide that splits skateboarding on so many levels, is, for example, what keeps it attractive as a marketing tool, but never allows the benefits of that marketing to really "trickle-down" to the core community who deserves it. Because of that grey-area. Because as a skateboarder, you learn to value those experiences in life that skateboarding brings you, or the experiences that by having the mindset of a skater pushes you to find. As a skater, I think we also value work differently, even our sense of time and our personal relationships are valued differently (just look at the wide range of personalities that exist and are accepted within your group of friends and within the world of skateboarding). We know that creative endeavours are meaningful, but don't expect to profit much from them. That's probably why some of skateboarding's most important people have accepted and actively embrace the entrance of big business. To put it plainly, skaters are the people with the ideas, risks, and ingenuity, which are all qualities that make good entrepreneurs. But at the same time, we are not businessmen, we are not secretaries. We can learn to be, but then we turn into Bam Margeras, Steve Berras, and Rob Dyrdeks, and we become shunned by the community we love and used to be apart of.

It's for these reasons that I feel that skateboarding is a struggle. We realize it too. We know we are at odds with ourselves, and we constantly try to identify more with one camp or group within skateboarding than the other. But I also think this behaviour is futile. We should know by now that as skaters, we're occupying this grey-area of life and we're existing in these "in-betweens," and that the bullshit that floats within and around it, doesn't really make a difference. We should learn to embrace it because it is a huge contributor of uniqueness to the skateboarding community. And it's what makes us "skateboarders" even when we are not on our boards.

(Read the full interview with Jake Johnson here http://skateboardmsm.mpora.de/news/jake-johnson-interview.html)

Phonetage 12

Been a while. Mostly footage from this past summer, enjoy.

Phonetage 12 from Jacob on Vimeo.