If Jay would have tried to make sense of the universe from analyzing the circus of the surf expo- Perry Farrell’s less than mediocre lyrics, “God is Dead.” could be read as some major truism- a revelation. Sure, there were hints of order that resided in the convention center (the pristine bodies of the bikini models, the enigmatic giant photos mounted on foam boards that illustrated surfers mastering the tide, the abundance of new products that the economy could still miraculously churn out, the occasionally nice rep or forward thinking brand manager). But despite this, there was much chaos and dysfunction and disorder that overrode all those good things and that bad could in comparison make all those things seem petty, miniscule and trite; the overweight public with their tattoo littered bodies, their unearned perceived entitlement to being hip even though all their actions blatantly went against such demeanor, all that aggressively bad taste, all those generic conversations using those unoriginal and predictable euphemisms, all those women - the same women who would complain about feminine exploitation who still wouldn’t hesitate to still shake their shit tanks in the expo displays to those hypocritical beats that lacked melodies, all those ugly pro skaters who would still reap the spoils of the hottest pussy Southern California produced.
But there Jay stood docile against the front of the Girl booth not wanting to speak or say anything to the team he kind of knew or agency models he didn’t and especially Carroll- Carroll who was kinda technically his boss, since Carroll owned the umbrella distribution company Skatemental resided beneath.
That wretched Chris Gentry rap song title “From the Outside Looking in” stuck out in Jay’s head and what added insult to injury is that this pathetic piece of art described best how he felt most of the time when he was at functions revolving around work. How the managers and owners and VP’s and reps seemed to aggressively talk against Jay on subjects he could most of the time no way relate to or understand or even feel free enough to be able to add a comment on that which would illuminate an otherwise locked down convo.
Carroll was anything but accessible. Even if one mentioned something seeming non threatening and sunny in casual passing, just to get a response out of Carroll- Carroll would most likely respond in nervous contrariety and if it was about the industry and he couldn’t find a point to prove the statement otherwise, he would do his classic Aderal cadenced: “Uh…Oh…yeah...yeah…yeah.” response.
Jay probably figured Carroll knew about his current pending employment status at Skatemental, that Jay was probably a business day from getting the fruit boot from there.
One thing that Jay knew about Carroll that they didn’t publish in Transworld Business Journal was that Carroll obsessively kept tabs on everything that went down in his company and in the companies related to his company and in companies not related to his company. He did this mostly out of paranoia of betrayal or fear of subversion from the inside, or to prevent corporate espionage- at least as much corporate espionage a company, that subcontracted their half baked perception of what they thought a skateboarding company should be like down to another company that did the actual manufacturing, was capable of.
At Girl, Carroll was known to surprise his employees, abruptly stopping their work during the day, passing out a gross of sharpies and legal note pads, forcing them to write free association responses to essay questions. Carroll was known to rarely leave the Girl offices and would occasionally stay locked in his suite for days studying the answers, trying to decipher evidence of what his employees were possibly hiding. Carroll closely and overly examining those scribbles on the yellow and blue lined surfaces for the secrets they may have held.
Carroll naturally mistrusted the public, knew their motives. This could be seem with how he watched every “will- you-sponsor- me?” video cartridge that got sent to Girl, no matter how un watchable it was, a minimum of three times. Maybe Carroll was just trying to determine what everyone who aspired to ride for Girl had in common by studying:the cartridge editing, the skaters trick selection, the nuances of their style movement. Maybe the power Carroll was bestowed only made him more insane and his obsession with over controlling his operation was his weaker minded way of navigating himself through the chaos infused landscape.
Skateboard companies also had their own slush piles. Stacks of unsolicited “will you- sponsor- me- video cartridges” lay docile like some type of inconsequential ammunition. Jay could practically see the glimmer of the almost unjustified hope inside the skaters inside those cartridges radiate, from glancing at those stacks that usually lay next to TM’s television/VCR combo sets. Each cartridge contained home videoed successful attempts of aspiring pro-rollerboarders landing skate maneuvers and stunts edited to songs they may or may not have listened to when not filming those tricks.
Those songs synched to athletic movement made them seem like some sort of workout video and along with somehow encouraging viewer participation by providing suggestions that to which to navigate their rollerboards, they also invariably advocated trespassing on private land.
Some times how one was motivated to go skate from watching those tricks the viewer has done or was nitt doing or could never under the best circumstances ever do, made the cartridges seem like cousins of porno. They touched a similar nerve; the same nerve that made horniness contagious simply from watching the act of sex.
Although impetuous videographers would label their cartridges “films”, they weren’t films after all, simply because; a) they didn’t utilize film leader and b) the premise of the videos revolved more around successful trick navigation and didn’t communicate or express much more beyond than which revolved around accomplishing such acts.
But as under the best circumstances the cartridges could motivate and under the worst would do the opposite: isolate or bummer high out the viewer to the point of them not wanting much to rollerboard anymore. And it was in such cases that pros were actually paid to make people want to quit.
Video ages well though, probably better than any media and although the attempts of documenting the cutting edge in rollerboard navigating were mostly failure- the skaters would accidentally end up creating incidental and accurate landscape portraits. Although the skater played the lead in each shot, one could not help notice their urban backdrop was at least a major supporting character.
Music has seemingly come to it’s logical conclusion- there was nothing left to be said, no new style to be expressed or investigated. Every flip trick has already been invented- and named lamely after the person who invented it.
Jay wanted to get away from the Girl booth and shuffled around. The fact that his instinct lead him to avoid the Skatemental booth was further confirmation that he was really no longer apart of that group.
The prosaic simplicity of Keith Huffnagel’s skating translated to the boring shoe designs at the new Huff booth. The Rusty booth looked the same as last year’s. The Deluxe SF booth looked more Hunter’s Point/3rd and Army/ East Bay than the downtown metropolitan splendor it should have been glamorizing. The Zoo York booth looked like it was from Zoo Jersey.
Some new wannabe “entrepreneurs” / Johnny come latelys with an over abundance of capital and under abundance of fresh invigorating ideas again decided to start a new t-shirt, baseball cap, skate deck company that aped the cluttered timely designs of tattoo and graffiti culture- starting a business they really had no business starting. There was something degenerating in this NATURAL KONCEPT.
No one knew what time it was, but for some reason the universe still allowed them to more than get by; still allowed these people to bastardize a quickly diminishing cultural cache. This, the only worth while thing America was known now to export, now seemed to be sprawled out on the floor of the convention center wheezing its last congested breath. Jay wondered why our culture wasn’t/ couldn’t be more guarded? Where were the checks and balances that prevented people who had no business or applicable knowledge to get involved and to profit from diluting the pond?
People getting paid to bastardize our cultural cache.
Capitalism was somewhat involved in this- the free market combined with anemic media outlets who refused to talk shit and call poseurs out as well as the un-conscientiousness of the distributors, who wouldn’t/didn’t know how/couldn’t use their power the correct way.
It was also the blind public not considerate enough to properly use their power. In ignorance, also they elected the wrong to appear as representative of the forefront.
It was chaos that allowed such things to happen and it was time for someone to swing their fiery sword, to send those who cannibalize our culture back to the edge of cultural oblivion.
It made Jay think of the Motorhead song: “Just because you have the power, doesn’t mean you have the right.”
And the more Jay thought about it, the angrier he got.