I think it’s cool how the aperture on skating’s cultural spotlight has widened. The irrationality, repetition, pain, passion, community, and impulse behind riding a board with four wheels is refreshing and honest in a world continuously driven towards optimization. It has become a gateway into the arts, opening doors the same way it has in the past - inspiring us since middle school to pick up a camera and shoot our bright eyed friends when a skateboard was the most audacious investment we could wrap our heads around.
On December 14th, 2018, Tyshawn Jones hefted the coveted Thrasher, Skater of the Year, chalice above his brow, carving a new line into history’s rotund tree trunk as he became the first New Yorker to receive the grail. Success somersaulted over success as half a year later he cemented an adidas sneaker deal featuring shoes with metal embellishments of his english bulldogs. This upcoming billabong of thoughts is less about all of that. There are unparalleled pieces from The New York Times and Thrasher that paint Tyshawn’s odyssey with rich colors and intimate nuance so if you’re yearning for more information on the guy please give those articles your time. This is more so about taking one of three tables for my lonesome during his absolutely packed sneaker drop party to jot down my thoughts and feelings about the adventitious nature of my situation in real time.
I was there in the first place under “plus one” immunity as Jen was making some quick cash working with the agency that was hosting/building out the event. Unbeknownst to myself this was an adidas exclusive occasion, a circumstance I came to terms with when the guys coordinating the event told me to get out of my Blazers or get out of the function. Determined to use the wildly overpriced flash I just picked up on Canal to shoot in what I predicted would be a light less little space, I squeezed my feet into a size 10 pair adi somethings I found in a box in the green room. To avoid looking like a complete fish out of water I helped out under a balsa wood front that could only hold up for so long - I honestly had no reason to be there.
Eventually the event started and folks began trickling in. I didn’t know a god damn person and was absent of the bandwidth to summon conversational know so and know how in a milling mass of people that I’ve never met. Thus I posted up quick and early on some valuable, central real estate (a table and a chair) and got to writing in my notes as the “have I seen you before”s and “who do you know here”s whizzed past my ears like arrows into some space behind me. Eventually some kids in a similar boat bopped around to my table and we decided to collectively make rounds on the floor to see if the guest list’s promise of Tyler and Earl had any validity. We came up short.
More skaters started to pour in. They built a fort out of their decks on a couch in the corner of the room, lowering the drawbridge to bounce around the space before returning to catch their breath and regenerate their buoyancy. Before doors opened the producers argued into exasperation over details that would ultimately get no attention - surprising considering they were well aware of the kids in attendance. I wish there was a rail or euro gap instead of a photo moment made of white spray painted trash cans and fluorescent lights.
After a few more drinks from a libatious counter I turned on my flash and got to shooting. Amidst a raucous group of dancing youths I snagged a couple shots of Tyshawn and dapped up Na Kel. All the while Jen did her duty. Striking names off the guest list by the front door as I ran my SD card into dangerous territory. I think it’s cool how the aperture on skating’s cultural spotlight has widened. The irrationality, repetition, pain, passion, community, and impulse behind riding a board with four wheels is refreshing and honest in a world continuously driven towards optimization. It has become a gateway into the arts, opening doors the same way it has in the past - inspiring us to pick up a camera and shoot our bright eyed middle school friends when a skateboard was the most audacious investment we could wrap our heads around. •