Due to loss of habitat, a lack of breeding, cultural shifts and plain dumb luck, some of skating’s most entrenched characters, tribes and behaviors are going extinct. Here are some examples of vanishing acts.
#1: The Vert Skater
Once a thriving, if clearly unhinged, subculture of skateboarding, the Vert skater is now the White Rhinoceros; as rare and with a hide just as tough. If the Vert skater doesn’t breed in the next ten years, we will be forced to watch the long death march of a dying race. Breeding programs have been put in place, operating out of sanctuaries in a few select locations around the globe, but so far they have only been moderately successful. Sadly for the Vert skater, their only hope of increasing their tiny population lies in the grassroots and organic approach of skate events like the Florida Vert Series. It is a sliver of hope for what was once a prolific race of skaters.
#2: The Skate Photographer
Once protected by cameras that cost as much as a car and manual focus that took ten years to master, the skate photographer’s first stage of extinction came with the arrival of the digital cameras which had auto focus. The fierce tribe of sociopaths and loners initially resorted to violence and Canon 1D’s, but this first wave only made them more susceptible to further anti photographer viruses. They were reeling from Facebook and Instagram photo sharing platforms, when Go Pro came in and dealt the death blow. You see 98 percent of professional skate photographers couldn’t actually skate (if they could, why would they be skate photographers?) and once pro skaters started taking pictures of the themselves, the game was up. Pockets of resistance still exist, however, with Thrasher front covers now paying less than an egg and bacon roll at an Encinitas cafe, they are slowing starving to death.
#3: Skate Grommet Abuse
It’s a testament to the sick, depraved modern world we live in that grommets are treated with kindness instead of violence, and integrated rather than alienated. The ancient art of grommet abuse is sadly going the way of bongs, corporal punishment and smoking when pregnant, as being no longer acceptable in modern society. The ancient art is practised in small pockets in the more forward thinking parts of the country, but those kids getting abused for having the temerity to be young, defenseless or different are the lucky ones. No one knows what the effects will be of skating youth being forced to endure positive reinforcement and general good natured encouragement, but it can’t be beneficial. We might just have created a monster.
#4: Skateboarding Folklore
This might seem strange kids, but once upon a time skating used to have secrets. Oh and skaters actually downplayed, rather than amplified, their achievements. You actually gained credibility if you didn’t tell anyone about them. This led to levels of mystery and intrigue, where stories which were handed down, carefully, and of course with some sprinkling of bullshit, as skating folklore. Now though, we are all self publicists. Information travels, literally, at the speed of light. There is no folklore, it is extinct, crushed by digital technology and skater’s new found love of themselves.
Bob Umbel is a lifelong skateboarder and organizer of the Florida Vert Series.