The “Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski Lifetime Achievement Award” had a reputation for being a reliable indicator of a skater’s ability to sustain a vibrant skate practice over the long haul, but perhaps it was ultimately just some self-fulfilling prophecy.
Jay though was used to the all too familiar confusion about how the prize lacked ability to actually reflect or create a defining sense of the moment and always felt that that fact was also on the edge of everybody’s mind- something everybody was barely conscious of.
Sal Masekela looked into the camera and says in a deep smooth voice, “We are all waiting with baited breath for four people to be put out of their misery. They’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting. And the waiting is about to be over. Hey,Larry Balma is in the wings! Danny Way is mounting the podium with Bucky Lasek!“
The filmer turns off his lamp and points the VX towards the pavement as Sal continues talking to someone standing five feet away from him as if the ESPN newscast was just an aberration in an otherwise chummy off camera moment and Jay saw how Sal was obviously conscious of himself being watched.
Sal lowers the official microphone, now talking like he’s being interviewed “Of course I won’t say that exactly…. We got six minutes live at the end of the show. After the speeches, we show a clip of the winner’s Demo Reel, and then I’ll ask the winner three questions and hope that he would say something, anything before a voice in my ear says ‘Okay, wind it up’.”
Sal talking in discrete sound bites even though no one is recording him. “Patch is an absolute professional though, a real pro! You know he’ll get on and off the stage quickly.”
Sal stops and pauses, then smiles off in the direction of nothing in particular as such a gesture is a flinch- a bi product of his job.
Jay walked away from the kiosk he was half leaning on, had no intention on staying around for the award ceremony and aimlessly walked back toward the booths- even though there too he had already seem everything that could possibly happen.
Walking back, Jay started imagining what Heather thought about when she masturbated, like he usually did- even though he vowed many times he would stop thinking about that, would stop practicing such a self defeating exercise- that exercise that he so was addicted to. He thought how Heather once told him that she never masturbated and that fact always seemed so odd to him. Maybe at the time she was just exaggerating, or maybe it was her brand of mysterious histrionics that could and would make Jay suffer and wonder and imagine. Or maybe Heather never did masturbate because of those pills she took. And those sporadic times that she even actually did get around to spelunking herself, did she ever even imagine making imaginary love to Jay? It seemed highly unlikely in Jay’s head that she ever would. It was as if what got Heather off was always off handedly presented and implied as something completely intangible in relation to anything that Jay could possibly offer her. And how that made Jay feel, so aggressively went against, nulled the very best he kept reserved and hidden inside himself. That just thinking about thinking of it, had the effect of being able to discount Jay’s motivation for existing. And if Heather was riding in Jay’s Volvo and was not paying attention to the song he was playing out loud, then what was the point of even playing that song?! No matter how well Jay skated, no matter how his video part came out or what team he landed in, it just didn’t matter. Heather would always want someone else. There really was no point for Jay to three sixty ollie kick flipping it at the abandoned SF library gap or no point for him to successfully navigate himself through those drought ditches in LA . And so in Jay, that hopelessness that so was linked to thinking about Heather masturbating so too alluded to the very notion of death.
Although this year’s Surf Expo theme seemed to be nothing more than another self congratulatory fete, some honky tonk parade celebrating the action sports industry’s consistent and seemingly unflagging devotion to encouraging public consumption of products that seemed to only validate what was wrong inside all of us and would only perpetuate icons who really had only one specifically impractical skill set that which offered no real workable or realistic solutions to improving the lives of the consumer - there still may have been a couple of booths that had been under Jay’s radar that he still actually wanted to see and maybe if he tried, Jay could suffer over Heather’s hypothetical masturbation habits some other time.
You would think that Jay would have at least checked a couple of those booths out, but this time he just didn’t. He felt so lost inside of it all, that he just couldn’t bring himself to engage himself- just couldn’t make himself set foot on that temporary wood panel or on those squares of pewter and black linoleum which were lain onto that buffed cold concrete convention center floor.
Billabong had turned into a pretty unremarkable brand, but half wired Jay still secretly held out a small candle for them. He let out a self referential coke snort and gave Billabong a chance to redeem themselves from their past collection and Jay still couldn’t quite put a finger on why he still kinda liked Billabong.
Was Jay easily seduced by the promise of some vague Californian beach ideal bought on by the generic hotness of their models? Maybe. Was there a hint or at least some suggestion of any new type of alternative live style concept for him to desperately grapple onto (by this point he was so exhausted and weary for anything at least resembling something substantial that by now it almost really didn’t even matter how preposterous or unrealistic such an ideal presented itself as).
Was there even some sort of concept or story that could be inferred from repeated examination of the design and lifestyle photos and direction of their seasonal catalog?
Billabong’s t-shirt designs were nothing special, they just barely a notch above average. Jay always though their board shorts were simply “okay” and could have been more improved upon- could have been subtle in some parts and more thought out in others. Was there a plastic water tight key pouch that could also safely and discretely hold a one hitter and keep it dry while he paddled out against the tide? Was there adequate proportion allotted to the hip and seat in conjunction to the general rise length of the board shorts? Were they still designed in Santa Clara and manufacturing still outsourced to the same firm in Beijiing? These were things that Jay wanted to know, that Jay thought about, were things Jay needed to know and he wasn’t quite sure exactly why.
Maybe he just liked Billabong because of the name. It was the name that kept Jay holding on: Billabong - Billabong which meant small lake.
Jay having grown up in Costa Mesa and later Hollywood, was invariably taught how to talk and dress and act up by the same industry that which now had steadfastly grown surprisingly stale, that which simultaneously rejected him.
Tony Hawk had Jay’s haircut growing up (or was it the other way around?). Ron Chapman in his 411 day in the life profile showed Jay how to be weird and aloof and unapproachable to all those generically beautiful teenage girls who went to Huntington Beach and Hollywood high. Even the ad copy, those photos of Justin Pierce standing in some photography studio in New York showed Jay how to be a minor and simultaneously get paid to flaunt illegal consumption of a malt liquor beverage.
But Jay now, marginalized, un-sexed, now so hung over from the pro-pro bono coke, shied away from the same booth that had barely held onto his interest. Maybe he had his reasons but, it also party had to do with some incidental laziness similar to not going to the specific places one intently has plans to while on vacation- Jay just kinda never got around to it.
The other reason, probably more to do with him being sick of always showing up at spots on the solo and Jay felt like some inner state median castaway and hated walking around saying nothing, feeling a bit pathetic in public because he didn’t incidentally have his friends around to confirm the validity of his existence.
Jay thought again that maybe if he had just now for the first time done a couple of new, fresh lines and if he hadn’t been practically strung out for the last two days and was freshly wired- that may have helped, but it most likely probably wouldn’t have had much an effect- or at least the affect Jay was looking for.
Although being so spracked out sometimes made it easier dealing with people who were friend-enemies or enemy enemies or people who particularly had no real opinion of Jay, Jay usually would somehow just end up kinda making a fool out himself when he talked to people who happened to be that the bit more sober.
But now there was Natas’ new apparel line; Tech Styles Textiles, that Jay wanted to check out, but even if he had that impossibly perfect amount of cocaine dripping down his throat, he still probably wouldn’t have had the courage to approach the booth. More than anything he just didn’t have the mental energy to deal with the miniscule breaks in conversation, the stammers, if he had even gotten to talking with Natas or anyone in Natas’ booth.
It was a bit stupid on Jay’s part, partly because of: apart from Natas being one of the only few visionaries of the industry and legendary pure American aristocracy (Natas’ father was an original Vanderbilt and had been raised in the upper world, in comfort and ease.) and Natas being probably the only good choice that the industry still had the sense to put faith in and exalt- Natas was also widely known as one of the genuinely nicest dudes ever. Jay would have no reason to be intimidated by him, as they probably resided on the same side of the philosopher’s fence and Natas even had that skill and capacity to make conversations easy (an attribute that no doubt didn’t hurt in propelling Natas’ talent and foresight into a position to where Natas could be utilized).
Natas had that type of charisma and charm that whenever he talked to someone, no matter who they were, could made them feel pleasurably validated- like for instance there was a special feeling one got when Natas would repeat back whatever they had said back to them, making them feel confirmed by some benevolent force.
Jay had always held a great amount of respect and admiration for Natas and it was safe to say a fair amount of his taste and values were forged by the Natas sensibility. That kind of dynamic or relationship with someone he didn’t know closely or personally always made it hard to get warmed up- hard to break the ice. Maybe in the past Jay had put stock and faith in the wrong heroes only to get shunned and it was further unfortunate that the guardedness acquired from such experience had been held up and reserved for the wrong figure; Natas.
Jay walked past the Tech Styles Textiles both and could instantly spot Natas’ unmistakable natural flaxen mop of overly light stands of hair on his head.As hair by some is considered bodily waste, even Natas’ seemed like a rare precious natural resource- almost indicative - a reflection that he was the natural inheritor ofthe gold coast he resided in and dominated.
Jay looked at Natas with Natas’ back to him, Natas with a small circle of three or four older looking gentlemen predictably standing around him. Just by looking at Natas, it was abundantly clear to Jay how so Natas was everything Reese wasn’t. Jay knew Natas was naturally better- pondered how Natas didn’t just decide to one day just become Natas - Natas was born Natas. He was generated in a time, in a place to where he was in a position to where he could historically contribute to the development of street rollerboarding. In the early eighties the torquey had barely been invented and Natas was blessed with being old enough and physically agile enough and smart enough and courageous enough and also incidentally lucky enough to be hanging around the right people to even get the idea that he could propel a move that at the time had been considered a paltry freestyle maneuver and then much later completely influence how a sea of ams choose to re-master an already tamed land.
Jay thought how Forrest Kirby could take what Natas invented and super size it and get paid more and at best acquire a D-level crossover celebrity status, and how Forrest gave away the exclusivity that skateboarding once held and how he fed it back to the a masses of ignorant public, and Jay thought again for the umpteenth time how democratizing skateboarding invariably weakened it.
In the end, no matter how big of stairs Forrest switch inward heelzed or how many popular gaps he stance switched shimmy flipped, Forrest was locked into and could only perpetuate the same generic Hispanic archetype that was overly informed by hip hop and basketball culture and Catholicism. Forrest really had no sense of himself in any context or even how he was assimilated and shaped by economic forces of low brow (Nike is low brow). The idea of what Forrest represented was like frozen in carbonite, like deep in some laquered ply veneers of the post post post modern era. And again these were certainly things about himself, that Forrest wasn’t/ couldn’t/would ever be conscious of.
And again :FORREST WAS NO NATAS.
Natas didn’t put together school boy teams, nor did Natas make school boy videos. There was something that Natas grasped that Jay was aware of, but still had a vague notion of; some dynamic he didn’t fully understand and Jay too wanted to get himself behind some kind of wind that would allow him to act as an agent of something bigger than himself.
There was something severely wrong inside of everyone, including Jay. There were bad decisions everywhere. They seemed so to rule the land. But even if Jay was capable of changing, didn’t mean those around him would necessarily embrace it. Changing for the good could even persecute him further. And was changing actually worth it? Where there limits to how much people should strive for and were such goals lofty and even arrogant to make?
Do we suffer more when we try to be better than what we naturally are?
Jay reluctantly walked away past Natas’ booth guided by his own beam of habit and
thought about what was wrong with us all and Jay thought about the giant Locust.
Jay glanced back and could see Pupek’s, cigarette behind his ear, Pupeks out there by the ice skating rink, the rink that had been converted into the temporary indoor windsurfing demonstration area.
Jay thought about what Pupeks had said during a video-interview; blaming Menace failing because they lost their name- that the kids who bought their prod weren’t smart enough to remember the previous brand development work they had all done and Jay thought that time Pupeks couldn’t have been more wrong. Jay knew the truth anyways- it was actually all Reemo’s fault.
Jay imagined the image of Reemo on the giant unused video screen hanging over the ice skating rink and imagined that footy of Reemo in Las Nueve, Reemo coasting down the dirt trail wearing his pancho, his cowboy hat- holding his six shooter in one hand and his empty bottle of broken promises in the other.
In what Reemo was instrumental is building, Reemo was instrumental in destroying. And a few people were well aware of that.
It didn’t matter what the fuck they called Menace- it wasn’t the name that sold it and they weren’t selling just skateboarding- they were selling something else.
Pupek’s, arm around some short Phillapino girl against the guard glass. From twenty yards away Jay could still see the glimmer of drunken Los Angelean brand promise his presence exuded- and from far away it was still easy to consume.
Mc Luhan was ahead of his time. He was so popular for a while that people tend to not take him seriously, but what he had to say was right.
In other words the package itself is the contents.
The characteristics of the package determine the nature of the contents, not the other way around.
Jay abruptly turned around and could see Bastien rushing towards him looking like he was all wound up - with some unjustified melodramatic air of urgency.
“Where the fuck you been!? I’ve been looking all over for you!”