Skateboarding Is About Taking a Deep Breath and Exhaling Into Your True Self
If the spirit of Southern California were to be distilled into an object, it’s not hard to imagine it being a skateboard. The pastime was born and bred on the streets of Los Angeles, and is as indigenous to the region as the state flower’s bright orange poppies that spring up between cracks in the sidewalk.
For Los Angelenos, skateboarding is more than a sport, more than a pastime and much more than a means of getting from point A to B. It’s an entire culture, populated by youthfully-spirited humans chasing the essence of freedom while trying to land their next trick.
Whether determinedly pounding the pavement to master a new skill, or cheering on friends from the sidelines, skateboarders like Alex are all about comradery. He understands the talent, drive and persistence required in a way that outsiders simply can’t fathom. And this city’s good vibes and positive energy have given him the opportunity to pursue his passion in an unprecedented fashion.
“Skating has just become such an important part of my life that I don’t think I could live without it,” he explains. “It’s like a lens that once you look through, you can’t see the world any other way.”
He’s learned that heart, authenticity and intuition are key to thriving and earning the respect of his fellow skateboarders. This resilient yet laid-back subculture has an everything goes mentality. The focus required to execute and land a challenging trick keeps practitioners in the here and now—it’s all about the present moment.
Eric Koston, for his innovation and clean style; LA native Paul Rodriguez, whose turned this city into a personal playground; and Tommy Guerrero, for his easy-to-watch rhythm that is an extension of the jazzy and free-forming music he writes, are a few of the abundant skateboarding icons of this community. With personalities as divergent as their approach, what brings these visionaries together is their fearlessness and their ability to take a fall, get back up and keep on going.
“You have to be down to eat shit and you have to be down to fail,” Alex echoes.
For the skateboarding community, their outward appearance is a direction reflection of their inner workings. There isn’t right or wrong way to groom, there is only being true to yourself, whether that translates into a shaved head or long dreadlocks. It’s about ease, going with the flow and being comfortable in your own skin.
With Venice as its birthplace and constant companion, the streets are the ultimate home of skateboarders, who visualize and use the terrain like no one else. They see potential where others see a bench; they see obstacles to manipulate where others see a wall. When it’s time to take a break, you can find them spinning their wheels at Swingers Diner near Fairfax Boulevard and iconic skate store Supreme, or at Pizzanista in downtown LA, where legends like Steve Berra, Rob Dyrdek and Keith Hufnagel originally set up shop.
“It’s like we are worried about this outside appearance and putting up this wall of who we have to be to be accepted,” said Austin, a local skater descendant from an original Z-Boy. “It’s BS. Just be true to yourself and not try to be someone else, because it’s just a waste of a life.”