Ezy Reading:
Railstand Into Powerslide 360 Into Ollie Broken Ankle
Evan Kanarakis

There’s a pretty sizeable gash on my left knee right now, thanks to the fact I just careened rather uncontrollably on my skateboard into the back of a ’93 Nissan Maxima –my ’93 Nissan Maxima. Lying on my back, a great many things come to mind –when, that is, the pain coursing through my body dulls enough to let coherent thoughts inside. My initial assessment is ‘Wow, I really should have braked earlier than I did’ and, wearily, I lift my head to check if I happened to cause any damage to the Nissan. Thankfully, no, although there does seem to be a steady stream of blood now trickling out of my left knee where I caught it on the edge of the wheel housing. Awesome. That’ll probably need about three or so stitches.

Then, still lingering on the rough blacktop of my apartment complex’s parking lot I start to ponder more significant matters, things like: ‘Aren’t you too old for this caper?’ ‘What the fuck am I doing on a skateboard in the first place?and the pride-ravaged ‘Oh… No-one ruddy saw that, did they?’ All good questions given the fact I’m not merely a novice skateboarder, but also -even more importantly- given I only just broke my right ankle in two places a mere two and a half months ago (unrelated to the skateboarding, for what it’s worth…). Right now my ankle feels a touch better than the left knee but hey- all the same, this is still pretty ridiculous.

So what’s the reason for all this pain? It’s a few things, but the key reason, honestly, lies in that aforementioned word: pride. Back in high school I never really put the time and effort in to get a handle on the sport and I lacked patience for the inevitable pain and misery of the ‘try to balance-then fall over-and repeat’ process needed to get truly, confidently moving. That said, it always did look like a blast of a time, so it was with this in mind that I set about trying to learn to properly ride a deck in just these last few years. I was, after all, already designing skateboards and selling them –my apartment is generally a constant mess of blank decks, paints and canary-cage newspapers strewn across the floor- so why not try and ride one? As far as I was concerned, screw the fact I was now thirty, had bad ankles after years of basketball and that my friend’s voices all combined into a chorus of laughter and sneers on news I was taking up skating- I’d prove to myself and to those bastards I could do it (hence that pride factor coming into play).

But more dangerous as a contributing factor to willingly volunteering for a journey into bruises and broken bones was the fact that a certain skateboard customer of mine –lets call him ‘Rick’- had recently taken issue with me over the fact that I’d now sold literally dozens of decks to him and his friends over the last few years but wasn’t, in fact, a bona fide skater. In fact, as we’ve now established, I couldn’t even bloody ride one. Rick, who is today in his early forties, comes from an old school era where skating isn't a sport, it’s an art form and more about a lifestyle than just some mere form of recreation. Born and bred in southern California but now living in Brooklyn with his wife and kids he’s naturally still skating to this day. Whether competing back in the 80’s, teaching his son to skate in the 90’s, or just jumping on the wheels down to a corner store for a loaf of bread and some milk today, he does so with an unending, authentic enthusiasm mixed with a kind of almost Zen-like commitment to the craft. By Rick’s reasoning, it would be an insult to skateboarding for him to, in good conscience, keep buying my decks and referring my work to other friends if I wasn’t a skater myself. It would kill the credibility of skating, it would kill the credibility of my art. I could respect that. And, let’s be clear- Rick has been a loyal, generous supporter of my little foray into designing decks from the first time we crossed paths. I'm honored that some of my decks hang on the walls of his Brooklyn home –a mini gallery of literally hundreds of skateboards- and thanks to his goodwill and positive word of mouth I’ve definitely been able to pay for many a month of rent.

For someone who had been so loyal to me, as well as being such a devotee of skateboarding, it would obviously have been unconscionable for me to ignore his ultimatum. Plus, though I don’t ever look at my skateboards as something I want to depend on for income –I want to write more than anything, after all- his goodwill has indeed helped me make rent at times, no? I agreed to his request, and I agreed to protect his skating pride and sense of honor.

Which is how I found myself three hours after his request standing on a skateboard in Brooklyn and, veering over the edge, staring into the abyss of a skate bowl while he –and about a dozen onlookers he had gathered together- cheered me on to take the leap and drop in. Rick even gleefully shared with his peanut gallery that I’d never ridden before, something that got them especially excited. He offered a few last pointers on how to handle myself throughout the attempt but it all kind of blurred out and became fuzzy as I kept staring into the concrete canyon that lay below and wondered if I’d ever get to see my mother again. Grimacing in anticipation I turned back to Rick as the crowd clapped on. I felt like I was a death row inmate about to give my last statement:

“For the honor of skating, right? It’s gotta’ be done... I suppose... Bloody hell though, this ain’t gonna’ fucking tickle, is it?…”

Rick had no sympathy for me.

“Come on, you fucker!” he yelled. “‘Arthritis’ is just a word, dude!

Swallowing hard I kissed my beloved pride (that ol’ gem) goodbye and, shaking my head, leaned forward on the deck and dropped into an 8 foot deep bowl of horror. What followed bears no repeating, but needless to say I remember hearing a lot of raucous laughter muffled on occasion by the groans of people witnessing great agony and misadventure. I did, mercifully, make it out of there alive and Rick, jubilant, announced that as far as he was concerned at least once a year I now had to drop in on a bowl ‘for the honor of skateboarding’ (and, clearly, for his own amusement) lest he would never buy a deck from me again. Wonderful.

So it's because of all this that I'm now lying on my back in this parking lot, bleeding from the knee and checking to see if all of my vertebrae are still intact. I’d figured to try and get some practice in so that I might eventually surprise Zen-master Rick with some more competent skating next we meet, and guarantee that he’ll keep buying my skateboards well into the future.

As of yet, clearly, I'm not doing so well. But give me a few more months, I say...

We hear all the time about folks who ‘suffer for their art', but I wonder just how many of those fuckers have to suffer through trying to learn the finer aspects of a stalefish aerial just to keep potential rent money coming in?

Still, there’s no point in complaining. I’m expected to take part in another skateboard credibility appearance for Rick in the bowl later this summer. The stitches will have healed and my ankle can surely only keep improving. This is terrifying stuff, to be sure, but it’s also great, roaring fun, damn it.

-And, apparently, ‘arthritis’ is just a word…

(but stock up on some extra morphine for me just in case, yeah?)

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