15 April 2013

Never Ever Be Any Good

Listening to: iTheory, "Thinkin' Bout You (The Frank Ocean Project)." From what I can tell, Geoff Ibe is a college student in Arizona who somehow has the time in-between classes to do smoothed out Frank Ocean covers. Taking into account my weakness for anything "Thinkin' Bout You" related, this version is my favorite so far. The fact that this is produced by a young Asian American student pushes it over the top. Throw in a cover of "Weak" Ibe did with some friends and it's game over. Here is iTheory's Bandcamp page.

Bonus: He also produced this Niki Fajardo cover of Elle Varner's "Only Wanna Give It To You" and I've had it on repeat too. Clearly there is a lot more productivity going on in university kids' dorm rooms than when I was in college.

For a second, I thought the cold was over and I could celebrate having made it through a New York winter. Case in point, a few weeks ago, as the city rejoiced and people came rushing outside to enjoy the weather, I stayed indoors to get tan by the glare of my laptop screens. "Why go out in all the crowds when it would just be sunny from here on out?" Little did I know that it would only be a tease.

This past week, when it neared eighty degrees, I knew better. JMZ called me up on Thursday and said "Let's go skateboarding!" I immediately said "yes" even though I (a) don't own a skateboard and (b) haven't skateboarded since middle school. In fact, the last time I got on a skateboard, I was trying to play basketball on it at the same time and ended up breaking my arm. I'd like to think that fateful date short-circuited both my professional skate and basketball careers.

We found a guy selling a cheap board on Craiglist and set off toward the Newkirk Ave stop to buy it. The eight dollar board was passeable -- for child's use, which was fine by me -- but the wheels were heavily cracked. So we made a pit stop at Skate Brooklyn to buy some wheels. That's when sticker shock hit. A lot has changed since the Eighties! Skateboards now cost $100-150 for the entire rig. Deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, risers, etc. I had been hoping to just drop a few dollars and get a nice afternoon reacclimating myself to skateboarding. Instead, JMZ and I faced some tough financial decisions. The guys at Skate Brooklyn were super knowlegeable and helpful, and we ended up dropping sixty bucks on a new set of wheels.

By the time we got to Central Park, it was nearly five in the afternoon and we didn't have much time left to hit the loop, or give me time to bunny slope it, as it were. JMZ assured me that riding a skateboard would be like riding a bike, and I believed him, but apparently I never really got good enough at skateboarding in the first place, since no muscle memory kicked in. Within five minutes of struggling and wobbling, I'd already received unsolicited tips from a stranger -- "Keep your head up and look ahead instead of down" -- and managed to go chasing after my board as it shot out from underneath me.

Needless to say, my dreams of cruising around on the streets of New York this summer will have to be slightly delayed. My goal isn't even to do any tricks or anything, I just want to get from Point A to Point B in a fairly efficient manner. I did manage to get semi-comfortable on my board by the end of the day, but as this (embarrassing) video can attest, I've got a long way -- and many more MPHs -- to go. The good news is, all weekend long I've been reading about how to skateboard, watching inspiring videos, thinking about re-reading Jocko Weyland's The Answer Is Never, and twitching my thumbs thinking back to when I used to play the shit out of Tony Hawk. I figure that should take me halfway there right? Plus all the skate lingo I learned? #laserflip #thrash #durometer

There's a larger conversation here about being a poseur, but we'll shelve that for another time.

Since that initial foray back in the saddle, I've bought two skateboards -- including a miniboard for JMZ. Basically, the ratio of me surfing the Internet for skateboard stuff versus time actually spent on a skateboard is about 10:1 so far. I mean, when in doubt and without skill, accessorize! I also desperately wanted to buy these electric blue cruising wheels, but that would just be ridiculous so I stopped myself. By the end of summer I hope to be risking my physical health at a street corner near you. Please scrape me off the sidewalk and say hello. But don't call an ambulance because I don't have insurance. Because I am a writer.

My friend reminded me that I have a tendency to get really into something each summer, and then promptly forget all about it soon afterwards. A few seasons ago it was the ukulele -- I can only play one song -- and last year it was bird watching. I hope to somehow conflate all of these faux hobbies into one...by buying a backpack that can hold my binoculars, the neglected uke, and my flashy new skateboard. Yes, I will travel around with gear that I can neither use effectively nor impressively. It'll prove all my doubters wrong for sure.

In related news, I lust after this 2010 Incase x Paul Rodriguez Skate Pack. After AMR showed it to me online the other day, I saw someone in the street wearing it out by Herald Square. I literally stopped in my tracks and wanted to ask him where he found it. Or rip it right off his shoulders. And then skate away.

For a potentially cheap, fun thing to do, skateboarding is sure turning out to be expensive. And obviously it's seriously kicking my consumerism instincts into overdrive. Maybe it was better when it was winter and my hobby was being a hermit. That was definitely cost effective.