Here's an unsurprising confession: I was never a competent skater. Sure, I loved the culture, the attitude, the aesthetic and, of course, the bands, but I couldn't credibly skate to save my life. Seriously. One of my good friends, Danny, worked in a skate shop for a while in the mid `80s and fixed me up with some great gear. I had a battered Uncle Wiggly Fishstick (if memory serves) which I dutifully covered with Misfits and Circle Jerks stickers. But to see me assume the skateboard and attempt to master it was practically a sacrilegious insult to the entire skating community. I was the type of skater that basically had to hop off the thing when I came to a corner, re-position it in the direction I wanted to proceed in (oy) and get back on. It was truly, truly embarrassing. For the course of a few painful weeks, I insisted on "skating" to my summer job -- thinking I'd eventually get the hang of it -- but it was not to be. After I showed up continually late to that job (and invariably boasting a bloody knee from falling off the damn thing), I knew I had to face a hard, hopeless truth -- I was not meant for skateboarding. And no amount of cool t-shirts, Pushead stickers or lingo-appropriation was going to change that fact.
I have no idea what happened to my Uncle Wiggly Fishstick. I may have either given it to someone more deserving or back to my understanding (but disappointed) friend Danny. Twenty-someodd years later, I still perk up when I walk by a skate shop or see the signature font of the old "Thrasher" logo. When I hear the telltale sounds of a skateboard echoing down the concrete canyons of New York City streets, my head still floods with tunes like "Possessed" by Suicidal Tendencies or "Beach Blanket Bong-Out" by JFA. But in order to really be a member of that club, you have to be able to skate, and I just never could.
Others could and did, of course, and skateboarding continues to be a thriving subculture today, although most of the notable iconoclasts of the skateboarding community are even older than I am. In any case, I recently stumbled upon the documentary below and it triggered my tragic and failed attempts to join the ranks of the skating elite. Shot in 1990, this film -- named "Apple Juice" -- documents the travails of the NYC skater. Look closely and you may recognize a face or two, notably Harold Hunter, one of the original cast members of Harmony Korine's "Kids" who also turned up in the "Blow-Up"-alluding video for "In the Meantime" by 90's one-hit-wonders, Spacehog. I actually met him in a quirky antique store on Lafayette street around 2000 and he was very cool and chatty. Sadly, I understand he passed away in 2006 from a drug overdose.
In any case, enjoy....
ADDENDUM: Here's a shot of the storefront of Skate N.Y.C (as discussed in the video above). It was on Avenue A and East 9th.