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Stoke Much 


A magazine about the creative culture of skateboarding.

Issue two of Stoke Much asks the question: “What is the skater’s place?” We didn’t set out to suggest any kind of definitive answer, moreso we looked for as many answers as we could find in the time we had to make this magazine.

This issue features:

Filmer/Pro/Video: Corey Glick & Don Luong

Masculine Plank: Bing Liu’s Minding The Gap

Rip/Ride/Cut/Slide: Hannah Höch, Collage Art, and Skateboarding

Made & Paid: Lisa Whitaker

Photog: Phil Mckenzie

Infinite Surface: John Dilo

Downtown Breakdown: Josh Elan

SPoT Check by Josh Bowser

Eyes On Everywhere: Sarah Huston

Freedom System: Derick Glancy

Hotdog Water: Potential Dangers of Vape Pens

Subversers: Trick Report archive

Photographers: Laura Dias (Brazil)/ Orlando Ovalle (Argentina)/ Janchai Montrelerdrasme (Thailand)/ Robert Christ (Germany)/ Sergio Del Rey (Spain)

New Old School: Jonah Hill’s Mid90s

 
 
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Mid90s  is the best feature length skateboard film I have ever seen. So, it’s a bit strange to see Jonah Hill’s movie receiving negative criticism from Bilge Ebiri of Vulture who claimed that it pales in comparison to Skate Kitchen which Ebiri described as an, “excellent, complex film about skate culture”. I spoke to Crystal Moselle after I saw Skate Kitchen–a terrible film made of nothing but posturing, wherein the women give performances that are infinitely less entertaining than their instagram accounts–and she couldn’t explain why she chose to open her film with a grossly unrealistic and gratuitously violent depiction of skateboarding. In fact Moselle asserted that I didn’t understand the film. But Moselle’s closest encounter with skateboarding was meeting Harold Hunter through a friend of a friend. It’s people like Moselle and Ebiri who do not understand skateboard culture. But Jonah Hill does understand skateboard culture. That’s why he hired Aaron Meza to ensure that the film was period accurate, and that’s why he created the first film that captures what it meant to be part of the illegal street skating revolution that swept through the nation and the world in the mid nineties.

I’m not saying that Mid90s is better than Dogtown & Z-Boys, because Stacy Peralta’s work is incomparable. Stacy is one of the most influential and innovative people in the history of skateboarding. But everything that Stacy did came before my time, so I never really had any context to appreciate it beyond my appreciation for film, and my love for all things skateboarding. But with Mid90’s it’s a different story. With Mid90s I’m witnessing and experiencing the mythologization of my adolescence. And perhaps that gives me a bias, but a bias balanced by objective intentions is a premise for insight. And I can say with certainty that there is a great deal to celebrate in Mid90s if you know how to read between the lines. But in order to read between the lines you would first need to see the lines that were used to illustrate the male identity in the nineties, and you would need to understand the desperation and hope-

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lessness that presented itself to all young men in these times.

If you were fortunate enough to have a father in your life then you have something to be grateful for. But what many people do not consider, is that sometimes a father figure can be a negative influence as well. This dilemma became a defining aspect for so many young men in the nineties. Many of us who had fathers in our lives experienced the pressure to “Be a man.” But it was not the mere call to assert ourselves that created a dilemma. The problem arose when the defining aspects of manhood were decided by previous generations who had grown up in a world with different possibilities. There’s nothing wrong with “Be a man.” But there was something wrong with they way that, “Be a man,” was used in the nineties. We were expected to replicate the circumstances of the previous generation even though the world was showing us that those circumstances had already become irrelevant, and the masculinity that arose from those circumstances would soon become anathema to civil order. It was too much machismo, and too much force for such delicate times. We were no longer living in a society dominated by religion, and prudence. We were also no longer living in a time of free love and acceptance. To be a young man in the nineties was terribly confusing, and it was clear that the previous generation couldn’t provide any insight on our dilemma. For all of us who got filled up with testosterone and set loose on the world between 1990 and 1999 there was no role model to follow. We were feral and seething, and entirely unaware of it all. We knew that the men of our fathers’ time had defined themselves in ways that harmed women. We knew we didn’t want to do that, and we were being pulled in another direction. We were also the last generation born before the era of complete surveillance. For many of us a criminal nature wasn’t a matter of yes or no, but when and when not. But in skateboarding, none of that mattered. We were all set free and given the means to discover ourselves–and by extension our masculinity–on our boards, rather than have our masculinity defined by the men who raised us.

 

Mid90s captures the struggle to accept the ugly circumstances that we were living in, but not be defined by them. One of the most powerful moments in Jonah’s movie happens on the tail end of a handful of scenes that unfold over a wide stretch of time. In the first half of the movie we watch as the diminutive protagonist Stevie is abused by his older, and much larger, brother numerous times. Through a careful depiction we are being shown that Stevie lives in fear of his brother’s overbearing masculinity. However, in spite of this fear Stevie idolizes his brother, looks to his brother as a role model and father figure, and ultimately seeks his approval. Later in the movie Stevie starts hanging with a group of skaters who are not from his neighborhood. These guys are brazen, and wild, and unintimidated but they accept Stevie, and they love him. At one point Stevie is eating outside of a restaurant with his skate friends when he sees his brother walking down the sidewalk towards them. Stevie gets anxious. Before anything can happen one of Stevie’s friends walks out of the restaurant, and Stevie’s brother bumps into him. They have a short exchange that seems like it’s about to escalate to a fight until we see that Stevie’s brother is obviously scared, and ultimately humiliated when he gets his face mushed by Stevie’s friend. And in this moment Stevie is touched by the freedom of skateboard-

 

ing. Although Stevie’s friends are far from perfect, they’re self-actualized, self-aware, and self-motivated; while Stevie’s brother is insecure, unconfident, and motivated by social posturing. After this scene in the movie Stevie’s character still has plenty of difficult situations to navigate, but he begins to do so with agency, and his struggles become part of his character rather than part of a torturous psychosis as they are for his brother. The next time that Stevie gets in a fight with his brother, it’s his brother who is left crying on the ground. Skateboarding gives Stevie a way to understand that he is in control of his life, and a means to understand that his identity and experiences will be the result of his actions and no one else’s if he so chooses.

Not all of us who grew up in the 90s got to experience the freedom of knowing that the overbearing overmasculine role model in our life was wrong. But most of us who skated did get to realize that. And most of us got to realize so much more because skateboarding is about creative freedom, and it’s a way to be whoever you want to be without relying on anything more than yourself. That’s why it’s so alarming to see a bully like Joel Morgenweck trying to find a way to make fun of Jonah. It’s not what skateboarding is about. Skateboarding isn’t about doing a kickflip. In the nineties when I was trying to

 

figure out my place in the world skateboarding is how I found my way. Skateboarding brought me friendships with all sorts of people whose values and worldviews broadened my horizons and changed my ideas of who I could be. When Stevie’s friend punked Stevie’s older brother Stevie realized that he could be anyone. That’s skateboarding. Skateboarding takes you out of the world that your family raised you in, and it thrusts you into the world that surrounds you; it takes you to places that your parents don’t know, and it shows you things that your role models never learned; it delivers you to situations you couldn’t imagine, and it creates friendships you could never wish for. For those of us who grew up in the nineties the world around us wasn’t an open book of possibilities, and our identities weren’t a limitless blank canvas. In the nineties a man couldn’t become a woman, and a black person couldn’t listen to grunge. These were the kinds of lines that were drawn, and skateboarding is what let us cross them, and the rest of the world followed us. And if you weren’t with us getting shot at outside the gym, then you can’t tell the story now because we lived something beyond imagination. I’m glad that this movie was made, and I’m grateful that people are finally getting a chance to understand why we all care about this weird configuration of wood, metal, and plastic so much.

Stoke Much

A magazine about the Creative Culture of Skateboarding

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Vanessa Torres, photo: Zorah Olivia

Vanessa Torres, photo: Zorah Olivia

 
 
 
Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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Unfortunately for the ladies of Skate Kitchen, the broad and tactless strokes of Moselle cannot animate the nuanced humanity at the center of her film. At no point do we question whether we are watching a documentary or a drama. Where the macho demeanor of KIDS is defined by its refusal to be genuine, the empowered feminine narrative of Skate Kitchen is defined by its capacity to be genuine. Except that the film continuously misses the mark for genuine. Thanks to Moselle, Skate Kitchen dances around a hulking, unignorable vacancy where the story’s humanity should be. Skate Kitchen is very close to being a great film because it’s filled with a bunch of young ladies who we already love. And in the film, we watch these young women challenge themselves to try something new, and do their best job on someone else’s project. But Moselle’s facile summation of these striking young women robs them of the power they command, and diminishes the electric nature of their character to a sputtering sizzle buried amidst the bright lights and the thundering of heavy handed film-making. And perhaps that is the essential dilemma here: as skateboarders, we find ourselves watching another film that wants to market what we do without understanding, or truly valuing what we do. A lot is changing in skateboarding, but whether they focus on men or women, it seems we still face the same dilemmas when outsiders seek to profit from our culture.

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Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

 
 

Text & Photos by

Zach Moldof

 

Finalists pose for a photo before the competition.

 

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Since at least the late 1980s skateboarders have been accompanied by photographers and filmers. Unlike other sports where achievements are summarized with names and numbers (whether points or stats), skateboarding can only be summarized with visual documents. That is because the achievements in skateboarding are not codified, they’re not quantifiable. If you say skater #1 kickflipped a 5 stair, and skater #2 ollied a 10 stair then you haven’t summarized what went down. That is because skateboarding’s value is largely determined by nuances. Unlike other sports where scoring points is the outcome, in skateboarding the style of how something gets done is just as important–if not more important–than the actual trick. And because the terrain in skateboarding is far from uniform, some visual reference for the actual terrain is always necessary to tell the story. In basketball it doesn’t matter how you look when you score, if the ball goes in the points are going up. In skateboarding if you don’t look smooth when you do a trick it doesn’t matter how hard it is, it didn’t count. So, in skateboarding, you truly achieve within the culture of the sport when you document yourself performing the absolute best renditions of the tricks you’re capable of. Only the smoothest makes are shared with the world, all the failed attempts, or roughshod renditions are discarded. It’s a lot like musicians who edit together the best takes to create a recording of a song.

 

Nyjah Huston, Nollie Heel Front Nose Blunt

And so, as the internet democratized the consumption of content by placing all individuals on a single shared network, skateboarders experienced a unique transcendence. Suddenly all of those skateboarders who were outside of the industry’s channels of consumption and broadcast were now placed on a single channel along with the industry. All those people around the country who had been filming their own videos, shooting their own photos, and doing their own rendition of keeping up with the big videos and the

 

magazines, were now in direct contact with one another. The result has certainly shaken the industry up, and changed what goes down, but it hasn’t changed how business gets done. And as a result of all the commercial glory that comes from garnering major web traffic, skateboarders have successfully negotiated long-standing, and seemingly fruitful relationships with major multinational corporate entities. Nike, Levi’s, Monster, Red Bull, and similar corporations aren’t making money off of skateboarding. They’re working with skateboarders, on terms set by skateboarders. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of skateboarders partnering with major corporations than SLS, and the world championship finals that took place at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, on September 15.

For one night a crowd of thousands of enthusiastic, and slightly unhinged fans gathered to watch some of skateboarding’s most potent practitioners unleash their talents on a specially-built course designed by skateboarders. Make no mistake, this is far from the first X-Games where the street course was little more than a deconstructed vert ramp with a 20 stair handrail thrown in the mix.  The course here featured actual poured concrete for many of the obstacles, and a layout that allowed skaters to utilize a variety of obstacles in unique ways while flowing back and forth between the 2 sides of the course. I overheard 2 skaters complain that this was “The worst course of the season,” but that was Nyjah Huston and Shane O’Neill. Those also happen to be the 2 skaters who seem to have a different take on these competitions.

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When people assert that it’s ok to use nazi propaganda in the way that Jason Jesse has, I get agitated. Racists who don’t want to publicize their hate, but wish to assert their power, insist that the swastika is merely a symbol of disruption, a subversive tool of great value being used against an uptight establishment. This is false. Swastikas are a symbol unique to nazis, the only thing they signify is hate and death for non-whites. Swastikas don’t subvert any institution, they just cause pain. In Germany you go to prison for swastikas because Germans have a clear understanding of how hateful rhetoric can quickly escalate to something much more sinister and malicious than disrupting the status quo. Somehow our nation saw the need to defeat the nazis, yet our government allows our citizens to continue the work of the nazis on our own soil. I truly don’t understand how swastikas haven’t been outlawed.

Jason Jesse’s apology letter wasn’t bad, or offensive. But his APOLOGY was not believable, because in the comments section of his post racists began asserting that Jesse’s apology was unwarranted, and racists made derogatory comments. None of those comments endorsing the values that Jesse had just supposedly denounced were addressed by Jesse. He just let a bunch of other racists do the talking for him. However, I know he was policing his instagram because he blocked me after I asserted that he needed to do more if he wants Jewish people to actually believe the words he said. If he has truly changed, wouldn’t he want to have a dialogue with a Jewish person who is skeptical of his apology? Shouldn’t I be one of his first allies, rather than a person whose existence he can’t bare to see on social media? Which only makes what is obvious to minorities apparent to everyone else: he’s still doing racist shit.  

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Donald Glover is a brand, using “This Is America” to position himself in the public eye. His positioning has everything to do with how much money he can or can’t ask for in exchange for each episode of the next season of Atlanta, and it has everything to do with how much of a guarantee he can demand for each stop on his next tour. Jase Harley, on the other hand, is an artist using his creative skills to enhance a life that is limited by his role as a citizen laborer. And no matter how famous Jase Harley’s ideas may be, Jason Christopher is only going to be paid 20% by Society6 if you purchase his art there, and Bandcamp will still take the same fee when Jason Christopher sells a single download, and Instagram will still charge Jason Christopher the same fee to market his music to his own followers.

When Christopher has an idea that could have a tremendous impact on his community it’s up to him to bring it to life. In order for Christopher to get paid a small amount, he first has to generate a small amount of revenue for someone in Glover’s position. Then Christopher takes the money that he earns, and pours it into a project he believes in. It’s a terribly oppressive systems that guarantees that rich people in Glover’s position get richer any time virtuous people like Christopher decide to invest money into themselves or their community. But when Donald Glover has an idea for a project WMG and Fox just write a check. Donald Glover is the elite capitalist living high on the hog, and Jason Christopher is the citizen laborer whose only recognized value as a creative is the fees he pays to services like soundcloud, bandcamp, Distro Kid, Society6, and other similar services.

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