Jay looking around for Bastien, didn’t know where else to go and found himself in the expanse of the convention center’s desolate floor level edge. That area lining the outskirts of the booth village exposed the inevitable generic emptiness that the convention center was actually composed of and was a stark contrast against the over decorated stalls that Jay could still see off in the near distance. Where the insides of the expo booths looked like a combination of retail outlet, television studio set and a living room, the bleakness of the empty outer area also filled Jay with some unspecific null feeling and he continued walking about senselessly because there was no where to sit.
The only thing to really look at in this area was either at the temporary fence made of PVC and tarp material or up at the convention center’s lofty ceiling. Jay stared up high at the giant AC vents above the rafters and felt slight vertigo and though about how it may or may not be somebody’s job to dust way up there, wondered if they were hiring. Jay anti climatically continued to walk near the outer walls and by then he had completely given up looking for and thinking about Bastien.
Standing there by the exit light, Jay saw two Hispanic men, both perhaps in their late thirties. One of them was wearing tan work boots and light denim jeans that were covered with white splotches- as if he had just gotten finished working with dry wall. The other somewhat tall man looked like a giant child with a stocking type cap covering his shaved head, a giant Georgetown Hoyas jersey on and long grey heathered sweat pant-ed material cargo shorts which hung well bellow his knees.
They were both talking to a woman who was sitting in a fiber glass molded chair-the cheap kind they use at public schools that could be stacked onto other identical ones. The woman still had her sun glasses on, was wearing khaki shorts that which still insisted on exposing her overweight thighs, sandals and painted on toe nails and had her black ribbed tank top pulled up as she was breastfeeding a new born baby right in plain sight. Jay could tell she was half reveling in casually breast feeding in public while talking to the two men, that which Jay assumed from their posture that neither of them where the baby’s father. Out of incidental boredom he slowly edged closer to them, until he could hear fragments of their conversation.
The woman propped herself back up against the chair ,took the towel from her lap and draped it over her shoulder.
“…gonna get another plan once this run out. M sick of this shit.” She said a matter of fact, with a tone that implied a type of street smarts, as if she was letting the men in on some sort of trade secret.
“I’d had this one for a bout a year now and I’m always over.” she continued, holding the back of her baby’s head- her long fake painted fingernails almost touching the baby’s newly formed skull.
“For real? My cousin says same one…drone… drone …drone” said the man in the stocking cap.
“…that’s cause stankin ass just talk too much..drone...drone...drone”, jibbed the other man, then wiping sweat off his forehead with a hand towel that for some reason he kept with him.
That same man who said “stankin ass” then turns his head and looks back at Jay with an acerbic expression on his face, noticing Jay watching them.
“What the fuck you looking at?!” the man hollers back at Jay, over confrontationally, as if he would be more than willing to test and display some kind of shabby pride that resided in him -the same type of pride that would make one feel it was necessary to advertise their last name superfluously with giant vinyl cut out stickers on the back window of their car.
Jay turns around a walks away and says “nothing” like a reflex, but it wasn’t really loud enough for anyone to hear except for himself.
“Yeah, that’s what I though. You better walk away!” said the man, his statement echoing against the buffed concrete floor.
These were some of the young people wanting to drop out of the hassle into beauty and love. They wanted to forget the consequences and live for the moment. They soon may or may not have discovered that all was not beautiful because something was wrong inside people. After a while they began to see something was wrong with all of us. The choice was to accept what was wrong in us and try to enjoy it, escape it or to change. Then those of us who wanted to change found we couldn’t because we were trapped by some unseen force in wrong doing.
At this point we discovered we were all, really pretty fucked up.
Like, how Heather probably did sleep with Shannon Dollin and how that simultaneously broke Jay’s heart and also got him off. Jay thought about Heather with those other men too, and it was a fucked up thing for him to dwell on, but he still did it, would still indulge in such and it was sick the way it still turned him on. Jay not moderating his thoughts, thought again needlessly :“I know she fucked Shannon Dollin.” He never knew this for certain and not being certain was a type of torture in and of itself, but he still thought he saw the cues. It went beyond clues though- it was more about how his instinct directed his body and how his insides would instantly coat itself in adrenaline as a reaction to such clues. That’s what they mean by “the gut” and for the most part, such a strong reaction is rarely unjustified. Like there was that one night Shannon left the party at the house Jay and Heather were house sitting in Sausalito when Shannon casually grabbed Heather’s tit in front of Jay as if it was a slight and subtle act of defiance. Heather told Jay he was crazy the next day when he confronted her and Jay let himself be comforted by Heather’s denial, because it was after all, a response he dearly wanted to believe. He let it slip by while it was going on, but now years later, it was something that he still wasted his thoughts on.
Those times Jay feeling like he wanted to die seemed indicative that the purpose on earth is love and his internal drive seemed to say: “if there’s none of that going on or none about to happen in the foreseeable future, then you know like, well what’s like the point of going on? “
Jay, loosing the game inside the game, still feeling like a walking integer, floated through the rows of booths, felt an overwhelming sense of futility. He didn’t have the energy to dodge or move away from those girls wearing their clothes that encouraged having children out of wedlock or didn’t have it in him to move out of the way from the men with their entitlement hats. And he just brushed against them- brushed against the inconvenience of their bodies, still going no where in particular.
Everything was such a disappointment. H-Street eventually became Osiris. There was Godfather III and that shit was un-watchable. The person who wrote the most popular love songs was exposed a pedophile. Even Stereo was a major one too. Everyone had to get their dam finger prints on everything and it was those finger prints on everything that helped closer drive Jay insane.
Even Shannon Dollin, Shannon Dollin that fucking bitch. She, who was so utterly useless.She who was so much fucking trouble. It does figure how she was capable of bringing out something so horrible inside Heather. How the darkeness inside Heather got pulled out into the light, how in the light it still stayed dark and if anything, that darkness being out there just made it seem that the more dark. Shannon Dollin- she,so worthless that it contaminated other's behavior from her close proximity. The possibility that Heather could lust for Shannon, that Shannon would/ could recieve Heather's gaze of desire. That Jay knew Shannon was in fact not even worth it (or atleast not worth what Jay's idea of what constituted as the hypothetical Love that he envisioned only Heather was capable of). Nor too did Jay think Shannon much deserved any carnal act by Heather that could be confused/interpreted/ read as actions of Love. It opened up a vast chasm inside Jay when he imagined all the small details that constituted the checkpoints leading up to the fate of Heather willingly betraying Jay by making love to this vile woman. That Shannon could would maybe probably did begin to steer Heather away from Jay only seemed to confirm the type of place Jay was locked into- a life, a dimension which would allow such horrible things to all be simply incidental. A dimenson that for Jay only a special chaos seemed to reign.
And then there was Penny at the Five Boroughs Booth.
Penny, the skate industry’s paragon of unaccountability. Penny the opposite of fine wine – who only got worse with age. Each year it seemed his face bloated up just a little bigger and clothing got just a little baggier. He just looked like a big 'ol troll. Bastien had gone on tours with him and said that Penny even constantly and defiantly referred to his garb as “his pajamas”.
Penny,asleep at the wheel and a lot all suffered for it.
The irony was not lost on Jay how literally the most promising skateboarder in the nineties, who was almost more Gonz than Gonz, who floated through Europe effortlessly on a puff of air pedestal wafting in the ether- who skated street like mini ramp and mini ramp like he was rolling a joint, was now one of the worst dudes out. Penny took pictures with that same grin, he never had his mouth open in photos because he was hiding the meth grill- the sum effect of the never bringing a tooth brush on tour and smoking copious amount of weed instead. It was the same with Penny’s pajamas, they got baggier and baggier because they were hiding his sideways growing figure and now made him look like a sort of Cross Colors gypsy genie. Penny, who used to cover expansive physical distances navigating his skateboard now mostly skipped around on banks doing little shuv and flip it trick variations underneath his weight.
We missed the starched white oxford shirts, the cargo pants, the silken bowl hair cut, the conservative Etnies.
And as far as Penny was concerned, his work had been done. The way Penny was, he probably thought that that combined five minutes of pristine cartridge footage was more than enough and we were lucky to even get to see that. That five minutes should be able to feed his children until they were old enough to leave home but it wouldn’t be enough to feed the rest of us.
Now kicked off Flip, Penny was a Five Boroughs expatriate. Jay had heard that from the very beginning he was wearing those guys thin and was also slightly menacing towards the other guys on the team. The working ams who had been with the Boroughs and slaved full video parts and participated in the worst scheduled demos imaginable, only got bumped back from the possibility of actually getting paid in order to fit Penny into the Borough’s promotions and advertising budget. What Five Boroughs didn’t realize or could have also been in major denial about was that they were acquiring him way after the fact and were inheriting the shell of human wreckage that was Penny. It would not be enough to rescue Five Boroughs from those conceptless graphics that may have been able to be cutting edge thirty years ago, or from the complete lack of coherent and consistent art direction, or even from those boring videos that took place in New York but were shot at visually unappealing skate spots that didn’t even look like they were in New York and might as well have been filmed in a place like Clear Lake.
Five Boroughs flying Penny around to the skatepark of Ibiza demos, or to go judge Tampa Am, or shake hands at Make-A-Wish or to just simply exist at Surf Expo.
It’s not like people were like: “Penny on Five Borough’s, Sick!”, they were more just like: “Uh, yeah Penny’s now on Five Boroughs.”
And as for actual skateboarding, aside from some stray bowl lines and random park footy- none got done. Penny now was more a totem of continuity for the industry than anything else. That kind of industry tenure was the only retirement plan the action sports retailer association rarely offered and Penny would do his best try and ride that out longer than he actually rode his rollerboard. He may now have began to view himself more as a master of ceremonies of sorts or as the actual physical manifestation of the soul of skaterollerboarding . And it was apparent Steve Rodriguez out of ego and delusion, convinced himself into thinking it may have been an honor to support such. He couldn’t, wouldn’t stop to consider Tom was using him because he allowed himself to get charmed by Penny’s history, seduced by the idea of Penny and what little left there was of the classic Penny brand charisma.
“The Penny rides for me.”, he would say.
But, there was a rumor floating around of Penny in the next Five Boroughs promo doing off a propped grate over a garbage can: backside shifty flip late frontside one eighty, but that was an old rumor and as of late no one had yet to actually witness such a clip.
And as much as Five Boroughs was so down with Penny, how they kept giving him undeserving seventh and eight chances, kept him in their advertising budget, it seemed like Penny still even held contempt for those dudes. Instead of turning his self-hatred inward where it should have gone, it was as if he focused it on people deluded enough to still believe in him. Even though they were still in awe of Penny, such rapport still provided him great leverage to be such a passive aggressive jerk and a complete phony and on top of that, probably even talked shit about Five Boroughs when hanging out with the Heads. He would never produce the goods. That hypothetical comeback Penny part that which could save Tom from himself and would hypothetically make Five Boroughs a real contender was a fantasy project Steve Rodriguez was still burning money on.
But Jay couldn’t feel too sorry for Steve Rodriquez. It’s weak thinking that allows a character like Tom to come around and basically hijack a company. Steve could have spent a quarter of his deck company advertising budget that he wasted on Penny on some half good art director to actually better conceptualize and help realize their brand beyond the obvious and would done much much better. Before Penny, Steve must have though just the name Five Boroughs along with those Harley Davison fonts and the gritty post Gesner high contrast scrapped up photos of the New York skyline and the graphics of the half erasured NYC manhole covers and black and white Saturday Night Live cab graphics and the outline littered Bowery fence graphics, were enough to stay ahead of the game. There was not much beyond that imagery that defined Five Borough’s concept- it was as if they literally asked people who had never been to New York, what was the first thing that popped up in their heads when they thought of New York and they turned those answers into graphics. New York, supposedly the world capital for art and Five Boroughs literally being the best thing they could churn out, really proves how stale that city has become.