Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"This is concrete warfare we're talking about. If you're going to ride you gotta get on that shit."

Being a young lad at the turn of the 21st century, I was subject to some interesting pop culture trends (Furby, Tomagachi, Tickle Me Elmo, Britney Spears, etc.). As I grew up, most of these came in the form of TRL and its firm grip on my pre-teen mentality. However, one of these cultural phenomena that still holds my interest to this day was the explosion of extreme sports. I continue to enjoy most of them, but skateboarding is my hands down favorite. As I was doing some Internet-scouring before writing this, I think that I can trace the specific spot skating has in my heart to the year 1999.

This year sticks out for three reasons. One of them was most definitely this, the second was this, and the third was this. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is still one of my favorite games. Sure, the graphics are comparatively terrible to what we've got now, but the gameplay is totally awesome. As an 11-year-old kid, these were the kinds of things I wanted to be able to do, which is why Tony Hawk's doing the first 900-degree spin was equally important to me. As for blink-182's Enema of the State, it led me deeper into a whole new type of music and culture of which I had only a vague prior knowledge (more on this in a later post, I'm sure). A large part of the "punk rock" culture of the late 90s/very early 2000s also happened to be skateboarding. So these three just happened to pass into my cultural radar at the right time to make me a skateboarding fan.

While my own foray into skating was (extremely) short-lived, the sport still has an effect on me, considering that I still listen to some of those same bands from when I was 12 or 13, and also because my closet is full of apparel from companies like Element, Globe, Volcom, and Quicksliver. Since I also love history, I recently Netflixed Stacy Peralta's Dogtown and Z Boys, a documentary about the Zephyr Skate Team of which he was a part.

I had previously seen Peralta's Riding Giants, a documentary about the history of surfing, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and had been meaning to catch Dogtown and Z Boys for a while. The Z Boys, who came together at the Zephyr surf shop in Los Angeles during the 1970s, are skateboarding legends, as they were the first to ride in pools, thereby inventing vert skating. The team also played host to some of the very first world-renowned skaters, many of whom are still prominent in these circles today (Peralta, Tony Alva, Jay Adams). So, for skateboard enthusiasts, this is a must-see.

However, even as a non-skater, I could appreciate Peralta's tale of friendship and sport. I actually think this is one of the best sports movies I have ever seen! Being such an active piece of this period of time helps Peralta tell the story about like very few others could. He is unafraid to touch on the more rocky subjects (commercialism, the break-up of the team) and you can tell that the interviewees, most of whom were his teammates and very close friends, were very comfortable letting the director know how they really felt. Peralta also makes sparse use of Sean Penn's excellent narration and lets these frank interviews really tell the story. The soundtrack is also top notch, making use of timely tunes by Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix just to name a few. I really suggest you check this out.

On a related note, I have been listening to Odd Nosdam's T.I.M.E. Soundtrack a lot lately. The hip-hop producer created the album to be used in the This Is My Element DVD for the Element skate team. The sweet thing is that he apparently created each song to coincide with the style of the individual skaters. While I have never seen the video, this album is great. The production is highlighted by the kind of fuzzy, washed-out tape loops that make me absolutely love a lot of the beats on the Beastie Boys' first four records. Amid these soundscapes there are also some really great samples and excellent detail to these songs that has kept them in heavy rotation in my iPod. For instance, my favorite track, "We Bad Apples," has an opening drum part that sounds like it came right off of a Kinks record. Or how about those sweet sitar-like lines drawing you into a trance throughout "Top Rank"? If only commercial hip-hop were more like this, I probably would really like 50 Cent.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

First Victim

Apparently John Mayer isn't very fond of Twitter, calling it "inherently silly and...dumb." As I scanned Yahoo! news the other day, the reason I clicked on the link for this story is because I, too, have a distaste for Twitter. So on top of being a pretty good songwriter and a sweet guitar player he has given me another reason to like him.

You know what, distaste is probably not the word I was looking for before. I think this sentence better illustrates my point: I hate Twitter. I just don't know what people see in it. My first problem with it is that there was already a service out there just like this. It's called updating your Facebook status. However, another of John Mayer's quotes from the article gets down to why I really despise Twitter, as he goes on to say that Twitter is "one step away from sending pictures of your poop." [Note: I found this especially funny because a few weeks ago I said that I was going to start a Twitter dedicated solely to letting everyone know every time I went to the bathroom.]

In all honesty, what makes you think that I want to know what you are up to at every minute of the day? I really don't care. And yes that goes for all of you. If something is that important, you'll remember to tell me next time we see each other. Sitting in front of your computer? Send me an e-mail about it. Am I sitting in front of my computer, too? Hit me up on G-chat. On the go? Call or text me about it. Keepin' it old-school? Write me a letter. Want to be really 21st century? Use your iPhone to post it on my Facebook wall in between texting your best friend and your mom while listening to your favorite album . Just please don't direct me to your Twitter.

On a larger scale, what makes you think the world wants to know your every move? I'll take a shot in the dark and give you an answer: they don't! The only reason you would subscribe to a service like this is because you want as much of the world's population to see it as possible. Why would any of the world's population care about the trivial details of your everyday life? This is especially poignant when you consider that we're friends and I don't really care. It makes you less attractive because it takes away the mystery if I know what you're thinking all the time. Even if you're famous, why does the whole world have to know your business? Just go act, write music, or get back on the court. You say you hate the tabloids and gossip columns, but you're only perpetuating that kind of culture by letting everyone into the details of your personal life.

Anyway, rant over, and, if you'll excuse me, I'm picking up a book and heading for the bathroom. I might be a while...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And they're off...

So I've finally decided to take the plunge into the world of blogging. I know, I know, I'm like 10 years behind everyone in the world, but whatever. If you don't like people that talk a lot of shit, then this is probably not the place for you. If you're still hanging out after that last sentence then welcome to my thoughts. I'll be reaching into the deepest depths of my brain to pick out only the biggest, juiciest thoughts that are up there. Let's see how this goes...