Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Note From the DFC

While Flatlander occasionally gets discouraged with the plight of the late night blogger, we just like to remind him from time to time who is wearing the coveralls around here. When it comes to Fakie endorsement, there is no publicity quite as good as bad publicity, and Fakiegrind has a contract to keep dissing our product until 2008. Who do you think is financially backing the high production values of the site, not to mention hosting the Fakie photo archives? No, you'll be hearing from the Flatlander again, after he's taken a few days for a mission re-evaluation and a programming update. Normally we just beam directives straight into his "brainchip" via Milk Satellite, but, due to interference from the recent heatwave, we've had to send a squadron of bovine commandos in to do the job personally. Fakiegrind should be up and running with new and improved punchlines early next month. 'Till then, enjoy ice cold milk, rear-view rolling and staying old!

Closing Time (Death to Milk)

Up to now, we've been able to keep the muscle from the Dairy Farmer's of Canada at bay through a combination of clever cyber-dodging and timely interventions from the Pope of Fakiegrind. Early this morning, I awoke to the sound of cattle lowing, and looked out my window to see the lawn being placidly devoured by a small herd of Jersey cows. There was no note or letter in the mailbox, but the message was clear: the DFC is on to us. I'm worried that tomorrow night I might awake to find my bed surrounded by bags of radioactive milk quivering luridly in the moonlight, and I am reminded of the title of the Dead Milkmen's retrospective album, Death Rides a Pale Cow.

Example

I'm afraid that all of these disturbing portents spell the end for Fakiegrind. I've enjoyed spilling my guts online with friends and strangers, and I want to thank all the Fakiegrind Agents who risked their sanity and reputations to be affiliated with the site. Thanks also to all the readers who were kind enough to leave comments and feedback, and thanks to the Powers that Be for the gifts of Skateboarding, Soybeans and Seretonin, without which this site wouldn't have been possible.

And don't drink milk! It's full of chemicals! Just ask all the three-armed "Milkman" babies they've hidden in a secret arctic colony. It's unnatural, immoral and disgusting!

We now return to our regularly scheduled propaganda.

Milk it does a body
Milk it does a body good
Drink it
Drink it
Drink it
Like good children should

Damn this Heat

The open wound that is Fakiegind has been festering for about four months now, though it seems like much longer. Lately I feel like I've been muttering into a void, and what's the fun in that? The heat really cranked itself up today. I'm stuck babysitting and have discovered that I don't like dealing with poo. Dr. Who was excellent tonight. I almost wept when Rose and the Doctor kissed. It was Christopher Eccleston's last show. He left because he didn't want to get typecast as a Timelord.

Maybe I should do the same. I don't want to get "Blogcast" as some kind of loser with no life apart from clicking away at the keyboard. I have record collecting. There are many fine thrift shops all within biking distance of Fakie Central. If I drop the blog, something else will come along. It always does. I could volunteer at the jail down the street teaching skateboard tricks to inmates.

The last stage in Zen Buddhism is called "The Prison Pass", and many don't make it through. Maybe nobody makes it through. But I will escape the black hole of Fakiedom. All it takes is hitting the "delete blog" button and Fakiegrind will stop troubling your browser, forever. That is, unless another Timelord comes along and resurrects the site from the digital ashes. How absurd that would be!

There are times when I wish that death was the ending of all things. Then I would know that no matter how bad life gets, there would be a final, blissful nullification, an impenetrable darkness, a sound and dreamless sleep. I might even be tempted to suicide, if I knew that this were the case. But I somehow doubt that it is. After all, we're here, aren't we? And who would have thought that something like human lives would evolve out of the great void of space? And if it happened once, it could happen again, and again--Neitzsche's eternal return eternally returning. So why bother with suicide? Maybe there is a way to find the rest I'm looking for even in the midst of life.

There is a flea that lives in a crack in the floorboards by the computer, and whenever I sit down to write it seems I get a bite. I have an itchy line of them across my ankle, the same one I sprained. Blogging, record collecting, skateboarding, consciousness itself is like a flea bite that constantly needs scratching. And then you're told that you'll be free from it when you cease desiring to be free. Well Screw You, wisdom of the east. And pass me the Calamine lotion.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Hive

My housemate says that all of blogdom is contained on a couple Apple computers somewhere in California. It amazes me that each time I press the "publish" button, tiny circuits are being rearranged on the other side of the continent. Something about all those messages from all those people being stored in a couple of hard drives reminds me of the movie the Matrix. But it's all backwards--we're supposed to be breaking free of the hive!

No Comment

The site metre says that 75% of the traffic on Fakiegrind is first time views. This means that roughly one in four people who stumble upon the blog become return customers. At first I was encouraged by the steady climb of the counter bars, but now I reailze that it is largely just the background activity of radom souls knocking around in blogland. It's probably better that way. Do I really want an extensive audience for these odd chronicles? Comments trickle in slowly. There are many ways to interpret silence, all of them inadequate.

Fakiedreams

This blog is like the dream of a dead man. I would like to wake up but have forgotten how. Some kind of stubborn determination has driven me off into the fringes that I now inhabit. It doesn't seem like I'll ever make it back, but I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kool-Aid

Like a hummingbird
living on sugar water
stationary acrobatics
beats per minute
suspended
in bas relief
use the mind
like a river
not a camera

dissolution
of crystals
like octopus ink
the glass pitcher
turned red
in the sink
I'll sit and sip
and thumb
my mental flip-book
the re-animator
contaminator
peculiar flavour like
tasting a chalk drawing
the new day dawning
like food colouring
dissolving in the sky

Necromancer

My skateboard deck is almost worn out. I'm surprised it lasted this long, since it developed a deep crack along one side on my second outing: more flex to fend off shipwrecks, I guess. What's worse are the fissures no doubt developing in my skeletal system. On the one hand, I'm in better physical shape than I've been since my teens; on the other, I'm not sure that my joints can keep up with the stress put on them by my rippling new muscles.

At least the injuries are well distributed: sprained left ankle, bruised heel and overextended toe, but the right foot seems fine. My right wrist has been sore for months--it's the fall guy, and I should wear some sort of wrist guard. My knees are just plain tired, and I tweaked a hip a few weeks ago, but it seems to have healed.

When the weather gets hot, my joints swell and feel worse. If it cools off I might be good to go again. The nice thing about riding an almost dead board is you don't worry about wrecking it, so you can try new tricks without caring about all the new splinters you're producing. Having the tail worn down makes the board easier to flip as well, but landing is more difficult because there is less slab on which to land.

I've been more worried than ever about seriously injuring myself. Everywhere I go I see people with crutches, splints and casts, in wheelchairs, on electric scooters. Yesterday I came across a fellow who had fallen off his bike and, apparently, broken his knee. It was all misshapen and sticking out at a strange angle. Gone is the illusion of invulnerability of youth. Hello to the gradual dissolusion of middle age.

Part of me wants to quit now, while I'm ahead. But I know that if I'm destined for decripitude (or worse), it can happen any number of ways, so I might as well keep skating. That being said, lately I've been enjoying the down time time as much as the rolling around time. A short vacation is definitly in order, but I'll be back at it again eventually. Skating is a habit more persistent than zombie infestation; I could try burying my skateboard in the morning, but come evening I'd be out there with a shovel and an eldritch spell for raising the dead.

Example

As Good as it Gets

It cooled off a little last night when the sun went down, but the air wasn't moving at all, so when the steel mills started pumping out their nighttime emissions--under cover of dark so as not to unduly alarm the populace--it just sat like a big, sooty pillow threatening to suffocate the the sick and weakly amongst north end residents. By ten o'clock my housemate and I couldn't take it anymore, so we drove up to the top of the Niagara Escarpment to find a nature trail where we could respire with impunity.

The trail was dark, with trees on either side blocking out any lights from the city, the branches interlacing overhead like a latticework through which the stars could be seen flickering across the expanses. At one point along the trail we thought we detected human voices, so we stopped, only to hear a chorus of bullfrogs sounding their deep meditative percolations into the gloaming stillness.

We passed under a hydro tower that looked like a huge grey insect entrapped in a web, and my housemate told me of some spiders she heard about on the radio who have two sets of genitalia. Because of the female spider's practice of devouring the male during copulation, this particular species is endowed with two sets of organs, to guard against coitus interruptus due to snacking.

When we were deep into the woods, the fireflies came out. Like phosphorescent skipping stones, or quantum particles tracked through space, they illuminated their own trajectories while navigating the dark. By this time, my housemate's son was crying; he likes city streets with lights and cars over natural settings, so we turned back and walked slowly through the cool, fragrant air, toward the day's residual heat that would still be radiating from the tarmac of the parking lot.

When we got back home, the pollution seemed to have dissipated some. I stayed up and watched a movie on TV while the cat circulated through the kitchen and then back out into the yard, keeping watch for the intrusion of strays onto his territory. Sitting there in late night anonymity, drinking purple Kool Aid and watching Mariel Hemmingway and Eric Roberts' superb acting in Star 80, I had the feeling that my life right now, despite all its ambiguities and anxieties, is about as good as it will ever get. The yellow mask of the moon beaming through the window agreed, and I went to bed with my lunar-powered mind chattering away to itself until late into the night, when exhaustion finally cut a deal with dream to concede to sleep.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Klepto

It is the advent of increasingly more compact and digital recording formats that has damaged the music industry most. You can't copy an LP record, but tapes, CDs and now MP3 formats are easily reproduced, and it's the artists who suffer. This is what I told myself as I headed to the local record shop to trade in three more selections from my CD collection for fast cash. I don't like CDs, and I only have about five of them left, but the three I just sold were particular favourites, and I kinda wish I hadn't let them go. I have them transferred to cassette, but the mind still clings...

I needed money to feed my collecting habit. Over the years I've had numerous preoccupations, the most prominent of them being vintage toys and comic books. In childhood I collected stamps, bottle caps, marbles, stickers, license plate numbers, and ants. My friend and I had a game where we competed to claim the ant colonies we came across in the name of our personal insect armies. Since we didn't keep any formal record of whose ant colonies were whose, it was a somewhat chaotic game, full of disputes and disagreements.

Being nomadic these past few years has made it difficult to keep my collections intact (except for the ants, who take care of themselves). I've had to sell off many items, keeping a few token representations from each category of treasure. It's probably better that way; no need to multiply frivolity to excess. But something in the collector's mentality reaches towards an ever-receding horizon, a fantasy of completeness that agonizes over minor variations and trivial minutae.

LP records are the latest, and perhaps most excellent of my collections. Excellent because music, unlike G.I.Joes or Transformers, has a wide, humanistic appeal; because LPs contain the most acoustic information out of all the recording formats; because vinyl LPs are perhaps the best justification for why the dinosaurs had to die; because unlike comic books or fridge magnets, you can dance to them.

And they're going cheap! With the eight dollars I garnered from my three CD liquidation, I bought twelve records and a book about Stone Henge. I traded in Dr. Flavour's Christmas gift (which I dearly loved), but got a record of strange, psychedelic bagpipe jazz (the riff from one of the songs sounds like the theme to Star Wars, though the album predates the movie by some five years), some old Johnny Cash, Herbie Hancock, the Stones, Talking Heads and a very odd recording of Hungarian Wildlife Sounds.

Example

Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't a very good trade. I'm addicted, it seems, to seeking out new sounds, and my compulsion--as in skateboarding--occasionally overrides more reasonable impulses. But while defunct CDs serve, at best, as coasters, I can always turn any dud records into attractive candy bowls.

Salty Dog

Another heat wave. Steeltown is hunkering down under a carpet of humidity and smog. I was silly enough to go skating yesterday, late afternoon, and must have got a touch of sunstroke. There was a kid with bleach blond spiked hair--he couldn't have been more than eight or nine--who kept following me around while I was trying to land a fingerflip. I was so distracted by my young shadow that I didn't even notice the one time that my feet actually made contact with the board--but it still counts! That's one more trick to scratch off the to-do list. There was a time in my youth when I could do the varial version of this trick, but I never learnt the straight ahead method.

Example
AAARRRH! Ain't nobody makes me wear no pansy-ass bathing cap!

Thinking today of all the people I have met here. There was Crazy Dave, whom I skated with downtown under the stern gaze of Queen Victoria's tarnished statue. Dave claimed to be possessed by Satan, and underlined the fact by accidentally breaking my board in half. Then there was the young woman I almost ran over on my bike last week in an east end park. She was clearing some weeds out of a garden, and we started talking. It turns out I share the same name as her childhood teddy bear. I told her that I unknowingly named my own childhood companion--a stuffed lamb--after the Egyptian god of light. Her reply, that there were probably whole ancient societies that based their culture on the things children said, still kind of haunts me as beautiful fantasy.

And then there are all of the people in my neighbourhood. Over the past two years they have come to accept my housemate and myself, even though, along with my friend's autistic son, we make a strange trio. A lot of these people grew up here, and can tell you a great deal of local history if you take the time to sit down and talk. I feel like the north end has given me a glimpse of a way of life that humanity has shared for hundreds, even thousands of years, and is now coming to an end. For entire generations to live and die within a radius of a few city blocks may not seem very glamorous in today's global village, but it has been the human norm since the dawn of settled life.

Nature and upbringing have made me something of a nomad. I haven't really managed to assimilate myself to life in Steeltown, but I almost wish I did belong to these kind and generous, sometimes rough, but always down to earth people. I can only hope that with the sweeping changes that have already begun to make themselves felt, even here, the salt of the earth will yet retain something of their saltiness. I have a feeling that they will.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Lyrical, Unempirical

There are lots of catchy songs that I've heard a thousand times, but never known exactly what the lyrics are. For instance, the first line of REM's "What's the Frequency Kenneth" is purported to be:

What's the frequency Kenneth? Is your Benzedrine, Uh-huh?

But I always thought it was,

What's the frequency Kenneth? The shopping's a dream, Uh-huh.

My version seemed to make sense in a hip, ironic sort of way, and I still pretend that those are the true lyrics to the song. It's not like the authentic line makes any more sense (at least, not to me).

So here's my imaginary version of "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Stones (with help from D. Byrne):

I was born in a crossfire hurricane
in a house with the TV always on
But it's all right now, in fact it's a gas
yes it's all right--Grandmaster Flash
is so fast, fast, fast

In the town, it said street sweepers ahead
I fell down, and the skateboarders all fled
But it's all right now, in fact it's a gas
yes it's all right, cuz Grandmaster Flash
is so fast, fast, fast


I've been singing this song all day, feeling pretty cool biking around these Steeltown streets in the blazing heat, and pretending I have tattoos. Imagine a kissing contest in which McJagger and Billy Idol were the last two contestants left puckering. Who would win?

Fakie Tunes

The Fakiegrind Summer Music Review is ready and available in limited quantities for sendout. If you supply your name/pseudonym and address we'll try to get a copy out to you before the Dairy Farmers catch on.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Spinoza

Time's running out for Fakiegrind. Fakie intelligence has it that the DFC is on to us, and closing fast. I don't know how many posts I'll be able to get out before they shut us down, but they will never be able to squelch the backwards looking spirit of the Unholy Rollers known as Fakiegrind Agents!

I can't sign off without promoting Flatlander's signature rotational innovation: the Spinoza. In leiu of photos that might be used as evidence against us on the Bovine Phoneline, I'll describe the move textually.

1. Get frontside G-turns wired (an extended spiral turn on the front wheels of the board).

2. Practice body varials (jumping 180 degrees with the body only, so that you change to fakie stance while the board continues rolling forward).

3. Combine the G-turn with the body varial: when the board is at about the 270 degree mark of the G-turn, execute a fast and stylish body varial, thus replacing your front foot on the nose with your back one--but keep the board in the G-turn, i.e. with the back wheels still off of the ground. With your footing thus transposed, you will be in a position to complete the last 180 degrees of the turn as a simple backside rotation.

It's actually a pretty simple trick, but looks impressive, even baffling, to the untrained observer. You can do it on a ramp or incline, if so inclined. This trick works equally well with plaid or stripes, but I recommend a good pair of comfortable sneakers. Stay old!

If I had a Shrink Ray...

Example

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Monkey 99

A big Thank You to Kill-Joy for sending the two skateboarding DVDs, Roll Forever and Boston Massascre. The former featured the usual ruffians, flipping down huge sets of stairs and sliding impossible handrails. It was simultaneously impressive and tedious. Someone could write an essay about landscapes being the true protagonists of most skateboarding videos; after you watch enough of them you get to know various elements of California architecture better than your own neighbourhood.

But I really enjoyed the Boston Massacre. There are some sequences in that video that take street skating back to its Natas and Mike Vallely roots. I especially liked that very tall, skinny Colin Fiske, but wondered why it was the other, shorter, fellow who had the nick-name "daddy long legs." I enjoyed watching him ollie onto, and ride right over a car; it's a move I've often thought about but never seen performed. The Montreal connection was nice too.

Just about every crazy trick I dreamed about as a kid but never thought would be possible has been performed by the latest generation of skaters. Riding over a car was one of the last feats on my list of things to see, and it only took a guy with exceptionally long legs to do it. There is some kind of hundredth monkey effect going on with skateboarders. Tricks that took me and my friends ages to perfect are now being learned in days and weeks by the younger skaters, and they take these moves to new levels by doing them down stairs, and in new, outlandish combinations and variations.

I like to think that without us oldsters breaking the ground, putting in the hours learning 180 ollies and kickflips, the current generation wouldn't be able to learn the tricks as fast and furiously as they do. I posit that there is a kind of collective skateboarding unconscious, a transpersonal repository for skateboard prowess to which we all contribute in the countless solitary hours spent in parking lots and laneways, and that this fount of energy is drawn upon by subsequent waves of skateboarders. But then, I like to think of all kinds of crazy things after a few dozen 360s on the old stuntwood.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Summer Reading

My late-night blogging habit has cut down on the time I have available to do other reading, so it has taken me over two months to get through Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. I actually enjoy the reduced pace; reading a page or two per night before retiring. Surely this is the way books were meant to be read, but the frenzied pace inculcated in students by university course loads habituates one to plowing through type like a trucker on a 48-hour speedball marathon plows highway.

Example

I found Motherless Brooklyn, like so many other treasures, at the thrift shop, in amongst a thousand potboilers, it's front cover dog-eared and nearly torn off, but its creamy, delectable innards of type intact. It never fails to amaze me how such priceless riches as a well crafted novel, book of poems or philosophical tract, the recorded texture of the human mind at its very finest hour of operation, can be left to rot amongst quagmires of stillborn plots, anachronistic recipe collections, and yesterday's self-help strategies--then sold for a pittance, for less than the price of a candy bar. But such is the paradoxical nature of commerce, and it works to the advantage of Fakiegrinders like myself, who, if forced to pay the price such books are truly worth, would need to labour several lifetimes just to purchase access to one or two of them.

Over the past year, Lethem has become my new favourite read. His Fortress of Solitude is the first novel I've come across that examines the influence of comic books and hip-hop culture on the life of its protagonists. As She Crawled Across the Table is a funny and poignant look at quantum physics and the absurdities of university life. Amnesia Moon is a fantastical, post-apocalyptic Jonathan Swift type of tale, and probably my favourite of the Lethem books I've read. He just recently released a collection of essays, some excerpts from which were published in The New Yorker not long ago, and these look to be interesting reading as well.

Motherless Brorklyn is about a detective with Trouette's syndrome trying to unravel the mysteries of a recent murder that is intertwined with the character's own unusual past. Without giving away details of the plot, I will quote a paragraph that seemed to be informative of certain insomniac creative processes that sometimes go on here at Fakiegrind Central,


"Insomnia is a vairiant of Tourette's--the waking brain races, sampling the world after the world has turned away, touching it everywhere, refusing to settle, to join the collective nod. The insomniac brain is a sort of conspiracy theorist as well, believing too much in its own paranoiac importance--as though if it were to blink, then doze, the world might be overrun by some encroaching calamity, which its obsessive musings are somehow fending off."

Motherless Brooklyn, Vintage Books, p.246


Motherless Brooklyn is well worth scouring the thrift shops for, or ordering through Amazon if dumpster diving isn't your thing. The book itself is full of dumpsters, steakouts and New York sandwiches, the combination of which is sure to satisfy any Fakiegrinder's apetitie for summer fiction. But don't take my word for it; read the book yourself and tell Fakiegrind what you think.

Click to read Super Goat Man, a short story by Jonathan Lethem from The New Yorker.

Shark Jumping

Until Dr. Flavour filled me in on the nomenclature, I didn't even know what the term "jumping the shark" meant. It refers to the episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz tries to jump a shark tank on water skis. Fans generally agree that it was at this point that the series started to suck, and sometime after that "jumping the shark" came to refer to the turning point at which a once good television show starts to bite the big one. There is now even a website devoted to the phenomenon, where fans can vote on the episode at which their favourite show took the plunge.

Example

Judging from the website, jumping the shark seems to be an inevitable process (though The Simpsons might still be in the running for becoming the one exception to the rule). But it's not just television shows--rock bands, movie franchises, politicians, whole cultural movements have their rise, zenith and decline. Not even slacker skateblogs could be said to be immune to the nefarious calculus of the Shark Jump Effect, and I predict that Fakiegrind too will eventually go the way of all pop cultural product, and start to suck (whaddaya mean "start" -sharky).

The slippage will likely begin gradually. We'll start repeating old jokes (have you heard the one about the rogue editor? -ed), revisiting old concepts (until the Dairy Farmers of Canada come home), and the Star Wars files will be pursued to infinity and back (once Dr. Flavour clarifies the nature of infinity for us). The Endtime Adjuster will show up again-- this time with some real manure for the fields--and any contributers or commentators we might have left will flee like record corp. executives from anything that hasn't been heard a thousand times before.

This process is bound to happen, may have already started. Fakiegrind, in a desperate scramble to stave off the forces of entropy and sharkjumpdom, will launch a barrage of outlandish, content-less innovations coupled with nostalgic retrospectives in which the accomplishments of the past will be used to blind readers to the insipid vacuity of present offerings.

Well, if it's a natural process...then bring it on! In order to remind faithful readers of the particular brand of Wilt Disney magic that is/was Fakiegrind, and to bamboozle newer readers into believing that the emperor did, at one point, actually have some sort of clothing, here is a list of links to what might be some of the finest Fakiegrind moments:

The Plight of the "Just Old"

Star Wars Obsession

Insipid Enlightenment

The Good Doctor

Fakie Fiction and Essay

Scientific Investigation

Long Live the Fakie Pope!

Metaphysical Speculation

Religious Mania

Nirvana

There are plenty of other great Fakiegrind moments over which to reminisce, like Kill-Joy's Fakiegrind T-shirt campaign (now, sadly, lost to the archives), and Em's drunken reflections on extra-terrestrial life, the all-too-numerous Fakie Rants of the Week, and the barely tolerated and far too extensive Star Wars Files. Serious Fakiescholars can roam the archives at will in search of any pearls, baubles and dollar store trophies in amongst the considerable mud. We'll keep posting until the CRTC shuts us down, or I find something better to do with my evenings.

Stay tuned for front line reportage of Fakiegrind Agents attempting to ollie over a kiddie pool full or ravenous prianas! Until then, keep it rolling, fakie and old et.al.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Shaking off the Dust

Example

In highschool, my English teacher's favourite expression was, "Shake the dust off your feet." He was always saying it at the end of class, or at the end of the school day, or when I would talk to him about graduating and moving on. He was a good teacher, and I still remember his question as to what the last words of Kurtz from Heart of Darkness meant.

Mr. C was the type of teacher who asked questions not because he thought he already knew the answers, but because he himself was baffled and genuinely interested in what you might make of something. I remember writing an essay called "Killing Kurtz" in which I attempted to address the riddle of Kurtz' epithet, and while Mr. C said he was impressed by my work, I somehow doubt the mystery was resolved for him by my early attempt at literary criticism.

I have some better ideas now as to what "the horror" could have meant to my high school mentor. He was a poet, who liked to spend the summers at his northern cottage hammering nails into wood--and forgetting about all the idiotic hypocrisy involved in the business of education. He was a great teacher who made a big impression on me, and, like one of the fellows from the steel mill cynically said in the swimming pool change room a few days ago, "I pity the poor bastards who actually give a damn about the kids they're teaching."

I like to flirt with the idea of employment from time to time, but only so I can renew my sense of unemployed satisfaction at the end of the day. For the majority of jobs I have held in my life--and there have been quite a few of them--the greatest pleasure they have afforded is finally being able to shake the dust from off my feet when enough becomes enough. I probably don't set my standards for satisfaction high enough, but I suspect that even the best job in the world has it's unpleasant aspects. And how many people would actually work a job at all if they didn't have to?

Unless you're a car thief, it's hard to find work here in the north end. I've applied at the dollar store several times, and each time I drop off my resume the manager looks me over like I was there to rob them. It's his loss, I suppose. My secret weakness--my Achilles heel--is that the combination of air-conditioning and Muzak has the soporific effect of turning me into a model employee, ever eager to serve the public and my employer to the best of my abilities. But Mr. Dollar Store Owner Guy will never find that out, because though I dropped off my resume again today, I made a secret resolution never to work there--even if they call me back this time.

I'm rinsing my feet of the whole affair and turning my attention to what leisure activities my limited Fakiegrind budget will permit. Call it an early retirement of sorts. My English teacher, Mr. C, has long since retired, and I hope he has made a good shaking of the dust from his feet, hammered a few more nails, and forged a decent metaphor or three. I always wanted to go visit him, but may never get to now. The last time I saw him he gave me a lift downtown in his army green jeep, a vehicle that looked like it could be from the TV show M.A.S.H..

As for becoming a high school teacher, all of my favourite teachers themselves subliminally advised against it. Mr. F was always very good to me. When I ran the teaching idea past him he called it, "the golden handcuffs" --stressing the noun over the adjective. Mr. F had wanted to be a lawyer, but got sidetracked through circumstances beyond his control into being a top-notch librarian and undercover misfit student advisor. He said to me one day, while the seemingly endless minutes were ticking away until I could get outside to skateboarding and freedom, "Flatlander (not the name I was actually going by in those days)...you just might make it."

I went to visit Mr. F a few years ago at my old highschool. The library was under renovation so I found him in a remote room in which they had stuffed all the books and computers until the construction would be completed. It was Mr. F's last semester before he himself would retire. Another teacher had just unexpectedly passed away of a heart attack, only months before retirement. Mr. F. spent some time with me, expressed regret for the sad irony of the recently deceased teacher, and told me of his own plans for spending his golden years. Before leaving I reached into my knapsack to retrieve a gift I had brought. I think the look of relief I detected in Mr. F's countenance had to do with my gift being a book of self-published poems, and not some sort of weapon with which I intended to wreak vengeance on my old alma mater. You just never know, these days.

Sometimes I think of the plight of baby sea turtles. Sea turtle eggs hatch by the thousands along sandy beaches, and each tiny turtle immediately starts the long and dangerous scramble towards the ocean deeps. There are so many predators and perils that only a very few baby turtles actually make it out to sea, but those that do can grow to a great size and live for hundreds of years. "Making it" for humans might be seen as the same sort of process: there are so many hazards on the path, so many outlandish circumstances and hidden hurdles to get snagged upon. But who can really say what "making it" even means? And if all human life is one vast, interrelated web, can any one of us actually have "made it" unless everyone else can somehow share in the victory as well?

For the past little while it hasn't seemed that Mr. F's encouraging words regarding my future would really come true. Sometimes, despite all attempts to swim, the waters just aren't sending you the Big Kahuna you need to surf it out to sea. Maybe it's just my imagination playing tricks, but lately I've been sensing a shift in the ether-tides. And, like some slackerly descendent of Mary Tyler-Moore, I just might make my way after all in this bizarre congregation of forces we arbitrarily name "the world". Whatever happens to me, I wouldn't even have made it this far without the help and kindness of friends, teachers and family for whom shaking the dust off your feet never means forgetting those dear to you.

Star Wars Files: Outtakes

Example
Let's settle this like men: one, two, three, four...
I declare a thumb war!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Mutt

I've been avoiding watching any of the newer Rodney Mullen videos for two reasons. The first one is that wherever I go kids say that I skate like Mullen, which is a great compliment in a way, but I don't really want to ape anyone in my skating style--even the King of Tech himself. So I figured that by limiting my Mullen video consumption to pre-1990 videos like Rubbish Heap and Public Domain, I could learn from the master while still allowing enough space to develope my own approach.

I remember reading an old interview with Mullen in the now defunct Poweredge magazine. He said that when people copied his tricks, it really hurt. This was back in the day when Freestyle skating still had it's own category as one of the big three skate events at any competition (alongside street and vert). Freestylers were judged on their technical ability, style and originality, and Mullen's comment about copycats has to be understood in this context. The irony is that Mullen himself has invented so many skateboard tricks that it is now more or less impossible not to copy him if you so much as step and a board and try anything more advanced than a boneless or acid drop.

The second reason I have been shunning the newer Rodney vids is that I didn't want to be filled with despair at the outlandish feisty-footed feats the Mutt is certain to pull off in any video appearance. I have a hard enough time staying motivated without harbouring a massive inferiority complex over the fact that I'll never do an underflip varial half-cab, or a caspar slide down a picnic table.

I shouldn't have worried about this last issue. Yesterday, I watched a couple Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song spots and was utterly mesmerized. They inspired me to go out skating for the second time in one day, and bust my first clean caspar stall on the hip at the Bease (the locals even took pause from their Saturday night reveries to give props). Watching Rodney's moves (and realizing that the guy is several years older than me) had a unifying effect on my mind, and gave that extra boost I needed to bring some long-practiced moves into focus.

Example
R. Mullen, Heel-Flip to Caspar

Mullen's skating is pure poetry in motion. Watching him gives a pleasure that I can only compare to a few other aesthetic experiences:

Seeing my first Van Gogh in the flesh.

Hearing the Smith's Louder than Bombs for the first time.

Reading a truly great poem.

Dylan's Visions of Johanna, live in Manchester version, 1966

Reading a good novel.

Dad's paintings.

Mom's steak tortillas.

Watching The Mutt perform his art reminds me of the Buddhist wisdom:

A dream,
a lightning flash,
a soap bubble,
such a thing is life.

His intricate movements are completed in the blink of an eye, but leave the world changed fantastically in their wake.

9 More Days

Only nine more days until the release of Buck 65's new album, Secret House Against the World. I've heard a couple of tracks off this one on CBC, and they are really great. With a title like that, and with songs like "Cat Killed JFK" the album promises to be full of conspiracies and secret knowledge--just up Fakiegrind Alley! Check it out, and support the burgeoning Canadian/Chicago/Paris hip-hop scene.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

One Thought Fills Immensity

Well, it's nice to go places, but it's nicer to be back home. I can't say much about where I've been for the past week, except that I needed some time to ride the rails, skate the truck stops, and think things over. I'm sorry that in my absence you had to be introduced to that improbable freak of nature, the Endtime Adjuster, and I'm sorrier still that he saw fit to rummage through my papers and back pages and post some of them on the net. But I guess it's good to air one's dirty laundry from time to time, and both drinking and psychotherapy are too expensive for this author.

Now that we have gotten the Star Wars files, poetry attempts and old time religion out of the way, I feel the path is clear to get back to basics and focus on the activity that gave birth to this blog in the first place. It may be somewhat shameful to be an unemployed thirtysomething unattached kind of fellow with an internet connection and a 7-ply habit, but over the past week I've had to come to terms with the fact that this is me. I'm not a rapper, or a scratch DJ, or a major Canadian poet. I'm not a parent, professor, gumshoe, taxi driver, stock clerk, freight loader, barrister, soliciter, telemarketer, ladies' man or puff pastry cheff; but I landed a crisp ollie caspar stall to fakie on the hump at the Bease tonight, and my feet didn't touch the ground for an instant.

So what if I've never been sponsored, never travelled to California to get chased off all the hotspots by police helicopters, never really met or skated with a pro, never had my picture in a magazine and never landed any skateboard trick involving sliding down the handrail of a set of stairs? So what if I'm doing pretty much the same thing I've been doing since high school--with the exception of a few years lost to higher education--and that four wheels and a piece of wood are about the only things keeping me moored to this swiveling orb we call planet Earth? So what if I've never made a blessed penny doing the thing I love most, and so what if I've pretty much lost all drive to attempt to fit into the nebulous beast we call society or support myself or my skateboard habit with any sort of even part-time employment?

I don't ask for much, and I'm not ashamed of being who I am. This evening saw me cutting up some gnarly lines down at the Bease, once the sun had set and the concrete was pale and purple in the dim street lamps, like the slick, graffiti-emblazoned back of some great ossified beast of the sea.

Kicks for Tricks

Here's a little story I'd like to tell
about how my running shoes all go to hell
It started back in school with the skateboard craze
Since then it seems my sneakers only last a few days
I've spent a pretty penny just to keep my feet shod
in leather rubber Naughahyde; they all get the nod
It seems that anything I try is bound to fall short
within a week or two I have to file a report
My shoes self destruct when I'm just getting down
As soon as they're comfortable for skating around
the sole is coming off or there's holes in the side,
the toe is wearing out and the laces have died
I've become an expert at home shoe repair,
buffering the weak spots with Shoe-goo and care
patching up the leather, replacing the heel;
sometimes it's kind of tricky to get a good feel
But no footwear is perfect, though some outperform
my jaded expectations and alter the norm
It seems the no-name shoes work as well as the brands;
they're all made overseas by underpaid hands
and sold to suburban kids with money to spare
Myself, I'm seldom anxious for the cloths that I wear
Function over form is the way that I dress
And if my shoes aren't trendy then I counldn't care less

Example

Exeunt Adjuster

Well, Fakiegrinders, as the Endtime Adjuster I have certain duties that might take me beyond the boundries of the north end of Steeltown, rich and fascinating territory as it is. The Rapture Index is up one point, and there are apocalyptic rumours for me to investigate, Upanachron artifacts to track down, and latent mutant tendencies to midwife in newly awakening starchilds across the nation. I can't sit around waiting for Flatlander to return indefinitely. And as much as I enjoy blogging here on Fakiegrind, comments are down .75% since I took over as site administrator. Through their echoing silence the tribe has spoken, so the Endtime Adjuster will take his revelations elsewhere.

I will leave you with a piece of writing I found lodged behind some of Flatlander's other papers, in a manilla folder marked on its identification tab by the words "Pure Dope". The folder was empty, save for one sheet of paper, and I suspect that Flatlander has hidden the rest of the contents of the dossier, or else taken it with him, to prevent sucker MCs from "biting his rhymes":


No Land is an I-Man
by Flatlander


You wanna stay calm if you live in a maelstrom
before you succeed you always must fail some
I accept cheques but require a deposit
when hired to remove poltergeists from your closet
holy ghost hunter, apostate monk
a failure at Zen, I pretend when I'm drunk
beautiful mutant, omniscient student
baptized twice cuz it pays to be prudent

This internal pep-talk keeps me distracted
from the fatal disease it seems I've contracted
called life --closet gnostic, poison in my veins
counterfeit heretic, ricochet brain
temporary tattoo blotting out sky
blue thunder echoing, not afraid to die
but fighting to live a hundred thousand times
the peace that passeth all understanding sounds fine
movement and repose, rapping in plain cloths
do not go gentle into that good night though
reading the fine print etched in my palm:
inwardly turbulent, outwardly calm

I cling to my ego, just like a life raft
trying to get it all down in the first draft
heaven-bent heathen, manifold faces
looking for freedom in all the wrong places
wandering wastelands just for the kick of it
washed up on beach strands, thin in the thick of it
collapsed on myself just like a black hole
portal to unexplored worlds when the bell tolls
constructing dwellings just like a spider
using whatever I find like a writer
sometimes entangled, mangled and scar-spangled
stacked like a tesseract with intricate angles


Take it easy, Flatlander. I hope you make it back from your adventures with new wisdom and insight--or, failing that, with new and amusing forms of foolishness. And to all Fakiegrinders out there, remember to keep it rolling, keep it human, and keep it old!

Elusive

Another poem from F.L. The wind in the North End of Steeltown was indeed blowing from the east yeasterday, and the "Train tracks for the sun" could refer to the rail line running just south of the neighbourhood which, when veiwed at a certain hour of the day from one of the many railway bridges, does give the appearance of the tracks disappearing into the sun. Then again, the wind could be blowing from the east anywhere, and train tracks are fairly ubiquitous, so the location really could be anywhere. The last line, "Never so real as today" is highly mysterious. What is going on with the Flatlander? And furthermore, why should we even care?

Friday, June 17, 2005

The improbable tilt of the earth

Train tracks for the sun

Swag of clouds from the east

Never so real as today

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Friends of Fakiegrind

As de facto webmaster in Flatlander's absence, it would be nice to hear from some of the other members of Team Fakie. I know that in the thick of last week's heat wave I made some rash accusations that one of you might have secretly been a practicing Sith Lord (you could really use an airconditioner -Maytag guy), but the page is starting to get a kind of musty smell to it, and I fear that it has recently been turning into a crypt to the vanished Flatlander. The monolithic egoism of the twentieth century has been replaced by the post-modern voice symphony of the dawning Age of Aquarius, so why shouldn't we all just get along? Surely there is room enough for Sith Lords and Jedi, gnostics, agnostics and acrostics, skateboarders, record-hoarders, monastic orders, and neurotic disorders all within the unfolding web-experiment that is Fakiegrind.

As the e-mail I received for the M.I.T. study states, "Your weblog has been randomly selected as part of a small group among millions to represent the entire community of weblog authors" (I think bloggers are in deep trouble -global spillage). If there are any Fakie Agents out there who want to make their contribution to the dawning social science of "Weblog Studies" now is the time to make your voice heard!

Doppelganger

Example

Yesterday, the neighbour's kid, who's named Michael (not to be confused with Michael from Spilt Wine), mistook me for the Flatlander and asked if I would take him to the skatepark. I suppose I do look a little like our AWOL webmaster--that is, when I'm not wearing my superhero costume as the Endtime Adjuster. Michael has been having a hard time at school lately, so I obliged him, though I wasn't sure what we were going to do when we got to the park because I don't really know how to skateboard. But the weather has cooled the last couple of days, so it was actually a pleasant early evening for an outing.

I can see why the Flatlander likes the Beasley park so much. It's a little oasis of neighbourhood spirit in the midst of the sometimes desolate downtown sector. The colourful graffiti, the lush trees, the mixture of generations--from young immigrant kids to the old Parsi man who, I was told, walks through the park at the same hour each evening, makes for a friendly environment.

Whenever a new skatepark is being built (as is currently the case here in Steeltown) cities invariably have a horrible time trying to find a suitable location. Residents never want a skate facility in their own neighbourhood, fearing increased noise, garbage, graffiti, vandalism and drug and alcohol use. What residents should really be wary of is the frame of mind that tries to exclude everything in society that threatens their sense of egotistical security. All the "evils" just listed exist at the Beasley park, granted, but this doesn't stop families from bringing their young kids to use the playground situated right beside the skatepark, nor does it prevent young children from utilizing the skate facility itself with their bikes, trikes, scooters and wheelieboards.

The way things are situated at the Bease, the adolescent locals are embedded within a larger social fabric of generations, and this seems to have a dampening effect on their sometimes aggressive energies. The older kids will sometimes drink and smoke, and occasionally they will throw empty beer bottles over the fence separating the park from a small electrical plant, but they have their own little area for these activities, away from the rest of the people who frequent the park. And I think that the other park users actually feel more secure for having the skateboarders around. It's a known fact, as demonstrated by the degeneration of Love Park in Philly, that the presence of skaters in a public area seems to keep away less desirable elements of the population. In this respect, skaters act like a street or motorcycle gang, but without the blood feuds.

Michael seems to like going to the Bease, though he often falls off of the skateboard that Flatlander put together for him. What he seems to like more than rolling is to be around other kids his age, or to sit and watch the older riders from a spot on top of the quarter pipe. Still thinking me to be the Flatlander, he repeatedly asked me to use his board. "Do a Spinoza!" he would say, naming the oldschool nose-spin trick that Flatlander claims to have originated. Eventually I gave in to Michael's promptings and stepped on the board, expecting to fall flat on my face within several seconds. I surprised myself at being actually quite proficient at it--an ability I attribute to a native sense of balance, enhanced by my superhero training. Within a few minutes I was carving up the park, hitting the quarter pipe and the bowl like I've seen done in some of Flatlander's old Powell & Peralta videos. It was actually pretty fun. If our missing skateboard veteran doesn't turn up before the skatecamp starts, I might impersonate him and stand-in as a camp counselor myself!

They Seek Him here, They Seek Him there...

Another cryptic poem from the Flatlander. It seems that he was at some sort of luncheon, possibly at an old-age home. Even in his disenfranchised state Flatlander has the survival instincts of a jungle cat, and the training of an Urban Ranger. He could live comfortably off the lay of the land in any North American metropolis--even the suburbs! For this reason, I don't worry about him too much. But the mystery of his disappearance remains. Going through the recycling bin, I found a flyer for a potluck lunch at the local recreation centre where the Flatlander used to swim. Could it be that he is hiding out right under our noses, here in the North End? I get the feeling that he is having some fun with us, leaving cryptic clues in his little poems that might lead--to what? Some kind of weird treasure perhaps.

Not Oldschool...

Potluck lunch with the seniors.
Over cold salad and roasted wieners
Margaret tells me never to grow old.
Too late, I think to myself
Even while the past fades all around.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Reverse Verse (Fakiepoems)

The Flatlander, alongside being a closet theologian (maybe "illogician" is a better word -Dr. Spock) was also, it seems, a pantry poety (but not, alas, a panty poet -Hue H). I've found an impressive (in volume if not quality) body of work stuffed in an old, mildew impregnated briefcase in the cellar. The poems are meticulously arranged in what appears to be chronological order, and, according to the dates on each piece, cover a period of almost fifteen years. This coincides roughly with the period during which the Flatlander claims to have been skateboarding.

The poems begin with darkly romantic dirges, heavily inspired, it seems, by Leonard Cohen, though lacking the originality and animation of the so-called Dark Grocer of Despair's verses. In the name of modesty and good taste (we're in trouble if Fakiegrind ever becomes a thermometer for those last two attributes -Aristotle) we won't be publishing any of these pieces here.

The next wave of poems appear to be parodies of Shakespearian sonnets, heavily revised and overwritten so as to be almost illegible, on the theme of unrequited love. These oddly colourful pieces offer a rare insight into a particularly innocuous but amusing variety of impotent male rage, and could be made available to Fakiegrind scholars for a minimal fee, upon request. We won't be publishing them here, though.

After the sonnets, Flatlander seems to have taken an almost three year hiatus, during which he does not appear to have been moved to compose anything more complicated than a grocery list, several of which are included in the files. For example:


luttuce

oil

honeydew

honey

luttuce

oil

dew worms


Finally, in what appears to have been a sudden and franticly brief period of (de)composition, Flatlander seems to have come into his own poetically with a breathtaking series of lyric poems on the subject of skateboarding. Some of these pieces are sufficiently original, we think, to publish here. I particularly like the mystic finality of the following arrangement:



When I Quit Skateboarding

I can no longer coast past the sidewalk gardens
of dusty incense in the fond daylight, riding a plank
of sorrows, and the birdsong littered everywhere, and
people staring into the plain truth of life wrapped
around their question mark interiors.

When the air is used for counting the new leaves dangling
from highway branches, galleries of ocean make-believe
hit upon the fabric of your brow, and you think for a second
that the magazine silences are echoing something necessary.

But to mouth fathomless verse brings comfort to those lost
in the film stretched upon old furniture. You sit by the window
amidst stacks of yellowing comic books. The infrared plots
have leaked from their withering pages. Newspapers
drag fresh histories across your laneway.

Everywhere I go I see them piloting the wind: younger souls
on their wheels of fortune, but I cannot mix the geometry
of Grace with my own means of displacement. Walking
with you down the street, we gathered mysteries from
shop windows where they fell like wounded pigeons,
laughed away the cobweb spectacle of familiarity.
The sky was closing down both sides of loneliness.

I buried my skateboard under an Egyptian pyramid, after
wrapping it in fig leaves, honey and unfinished crosswords.
The wind-blown sands covered the skeleton of my youth
with glacial majesty. Searching for it again
will turn up only splinters and lipstick.



As a testament to the nostalgia of entropy, this poem has a certain poignancy to it. It seems that Flatlander had been planning to kick the kickflip habit for some time, though one of the last entries in his journal betray the tenacity with which his feet seem to cling to the grip tape:

Signed up as a skatecamp instructor today--why? Five days of touring the parks with a bus load of kids, teaching them the basics, can't be too bad. If I take it easy, my knees might make it through. Treat it as a kind of community service. Maybe then I'll be allowed to retire. All these years I've thought that I was doing the skating, now it's clear that some kind of larger entity is using us to further its own intractable plans.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wheels of Steel

Example


Like so many white males of his generation, Flatlander seems to have had aspirations of becoming a hip-hop DJ. His journals touch on this fantasy several times, mentioning the large roll that the first widely famous scratch DJ, Grandmaster Flash, played in the childhood mythology of Flatlander and his friends:

I remember when my friend Brad played the K-Tel Breakdance album for the first time. We were huddled in his dank basement, G.I. Joe figures scattered over the mildew-laden carpet, with Brad's record player set up on a table in the corner. He peeled off the plastic wrap and unsheathed the shiny black disk from its translucent sleeve. The first track on the collection is Herbie Hancock's "Rockit", a song that we were already familiar with, as Brad had recorded the bizarre video for it from TV some weeks before. The second track is the legendary "Official Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel", and this one utterly blew our minds. The first thirty seconds of the song were like nothing we had ever heard, seamlessly mixing together stuttering snippets from Spoonie Gee and Blondie before blasting into the laidback base rif of Chic's "Good Times".

Listening to the song, it was as if our heads had been smashed through a brick wall, leaving us dizzy and speachless in an entire new dimension peopled with impossibly cool breakdancing, record spinning ninjas of sound. We had no idea at the time who Spoonie Gee, Chic or even Blondie actually were, nor did we know that what we were listening to was a revolutionary piece of musical history [the track under discussion is the first recorded instance of a song's being composed entirely out of mixed and repeated elements of other recordings -music ed]. All we knew was that it sounded good, and that we wanted to track down more of that sound.

We tried to scratch using Brad's record player, but we didn't know that the technique required a special direct-drive turntable, so we ended up wrecking a few disks and needles this way. In the end we had to resort to makeshift instruments: we zipped on zippers, tweaked plastic combs, and ran our fingernails over Gortex to approximate the scribbles and quibs of the record scratch. We searched out hard to find vinyl compilations in the used record stores in the seedier parts of town, looking for the Furious Five, Malcom McLaren, and the West Street Mob. On one of our missions, we went looking for the elusive Wild Style sountrack --a 1982 film featuring some of the earliest hip hop sounds ever recorded.

We searched through the pertinent sections of the record store, and even asked the extensively tattooed and intimidating store owner if he had seen the disk. He'd never even heard of it. Just as we were leaving, however, I was idly thumbing through a random bin of records--in the "S" section I think it was-- only to find the object of our quest staring up at me with its graffiti lettered logo. We ran back to Brad's place--he was the only one with a record player--and slapped our find on the turntable. The songs didn't have the flashy production of the more popular rap tracks we were familiar with, but they had a certain understated authenticity that grew on us over several listenings. The record has recently been re-released and I now own a copy.


It's been said many times: Hip Hop is the folk music of generation X. Flatlander writes in another entry of staying up late at night, crouched over his father's stereo reciever, listening to a soul music station from Buffalo so he could record the odd Run DMC or Afrika Bambaataa song that would air:

Mixed tapes of the new sounds would circulate the school yard like contraband in a penitentiary...Since the days of my youth, the hip hop DJ has gone from being the street-level maestro of Brooklyn block parties, to a globally recognized phenomenon transcending race, gender and economic boundaries. That the musical form has lately ended up drained of most of its socially relevant content and parked in the suburban purgatory of mall and pimp-mobile culture does not detract from the force of its original message. One only has to go back to the recordings of the 80's and early nineties, or give a listen to hip hop revivalists like K-OS, or mutant adaptionists like Beck and Buck 65 to see that the musical form is still vibrant, progressive and relevant.

Maybe Flatlander's going AWOL has something to do with chasing down his life long dream of busting loose on the wheels of steel. Even now, he could be high in the Himalayas learning the ancient secrets from a Master of Mixology, spinning records like they were prayer wheels. If this is the case, then I predict that Flatlander will be back, eventually--he left his record collection here.

Fakiegrind to Help Advance Science

I don't check the Fakiegrind mailbox very often because we rarely seem to receive messages. Maybe people are sending us mail, but it ends up in the junk box and gets deleted after 24 hours without anybody seeing it. If you have poured your heart out only for it to have fallen upon deaf ears, we apologize. Also, if you have any questions to Ask Dr. Flavour, his formidable intellectual discernment and wit are apparently still available to Fakiegrinders with a thirst for knowledge--so please don't hesitate. But all in all, we recognize that part of the voyeuristic thrill of following a blog necessitates keeping a certain formal distance and level of anonymity, and that sending an e-mail might be a little too up-close-and-personal for most readers. Folks with anything to say generally do so on the comments pages, the community feel of which is part of the fun of blogland.

So I was surprised yesterday to have received a message from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology saying that Fakiegrind had been randomly chosen to take part in an academic study investigating the role weblogs play in the lives of their authors:

"Does your weblog make you more connected to the rest of society? Does it increase your chances of getting a job or finding information that you are looking for? To answer these questions, which are very important to our research, we ask for your help."

This is pretty exciting. I was hoping to be flown out to some underground laboratory and subjected to strange radiations that would alter my genetic structure and unintentionally give me super powers, but it turns out to be only a fifteen minute web-based survey. I guess there's always the chance that UV rays from the computer monitor will transform my retinas and give me the ability to, say, surf the net with my eyes closed or something cool like that, but in the mean time I guess I'll hop on over and fill out the form. I'm not sure if I should mention Fakiegrind's subliminal bid for domination of world media franchises--the Flatlander wanted to keep that strictly hush hush.

Monday, June 13, 2005

More Wheels

Example
We Wheelie Wike to Woll

I found Flatlander's old wheels today, stashed in a plastic bag at the back of a dresser drawer. As you can see from the photo, they measure in at just over 40 mm diameter--pretty small for a wheel, even by today's standards. Of course, they were probably at least 50 or 55 mm new. That leaves a good centimetre's worth of polyurythane deposited in a thin film over the streets of Steeltown and the various other locations that the Flatlander managed to visit on his sedentary slacker's travel budget (mostly this seems to have amounted to the occasional trip to Toronto to take in whatever car fumes were missing from his metal-laden respiratory diet). If I could only get a trace sample of the wheels he is riding now, we might be able to track him using nano-hound technology. I found an entry in F.L.'s journal that seems to relate to the wheels:

"Switched my tiny Almost wheels for the old Bullet 66's that Em gave me. They're more like bullet 55's now--which isn't bad for the 15 or so years of service that they've seen. After riding those rediculously small, chalky newschool rollers and hanging up on every little pebble, the vintage wheels are like riding on carpet. They don't blend the plastics like that anymore: grippy enough for carving, but hard enough to slide. I suddenly feel confident going down the hill beside the house; the old plastics are like mother's milk to me and I know just how they're going to behave. Skateboard wheels are like fine wines, you do well to seek out the older vintages, though they're difficult to find. And your pleasure in riding is enhanced by the knowledge that every slide and kick-turn brings you that much closer using up the wheel to the point of unridability."

Keep it rolling buddy! I'm glad you have some quality plastic between yourself and the dusty road.

The Big 1000

If Flatlander is out there reading, I'm sure he's happy that the blog he started has climbed up past the 1000 mark. It takes a certain kind of fearlessness, coupled with morbid curiosity, to wade into the online psychosis known as Fakiegrind, but we're happy that folks are making the trip (and we sincerely hope the damage isn't permanent -MASH unit). Side effects may include, but are not limited to, inexplicable hiccups and chaffing, sudden perplexity or dizziness, synesthesia (the rank odor of haphazard epiphany, the texture of vacuum), spurious bouts of rogue editing, multiple persenility disorder, memory floss and "flat spots". But please don't worry, Fakiegrind doctors (36 Flavours) are standing by 24/7 to get you at least through the flat spots. It's the least we could do, circumstances being what they are, that is: inexplicable.

And a shout out! to Michael for being the big one-oh-oh-oh.

Wheels Within Wheels

Example

A couple days ago I was in the neighbourhood of the place of worship Flatlander attends, looking for clues to his recent disappearance. The church is indeed a beautiful old sanctuary, with a towering spire that once must have been the tallest structure in town, but is now somewhat dwarfed--in size, though not in style--by the flanking office buildings and hotels. I was prevented, however, from getting a close look at the place by the main road's being cordoned off. There were police directing traffic, and crowds of people holding placards and signs on the sidewalk. I noticed some tv or movie cameras too, and a few long-haired guys with little microphones stuck in their ears. Strangest of all, though, were the twenty or so cows placidly chewing their cud in the middle of the roadway. There was a little bit of hay scattered about for them, but it was well over thirty degrees, and the creatures must have been hot. I thought to myself that someone should hose the beasts down.

I asked one of the protesters what was going on--was it some kind of occupation on the part of the farmers? Would they be bringing chickens, pigs and tractors as well? Would they be moving the herd anytime soon so I could get a better look at the church? The fellow told me they were shooting a television commercial. Then I noticed the placards: they had messages like "Milk for the Masses" and "Healthy Bones Love Milk" done in tidy, computer generated lettering. Despite the heat, I felt an icy chill creep down my spine as the realization sunk in. "Any skateboarders in this commercial?" I asked. The fellow with the sign shook his head. He was just a paid extra, so I wasn't too worried. But then I noticed a couple of guys, overdressed for the weather in heavy suits, stirring from their unobtrusive position beneath the shade of some trees across the street. They seemed to be headed my way, so I deftly removed myself from the locale. No need to attract undue attention at this point.

But the message was clear: the Dairy Farmers of Canada were steaking out Flatlander's church. I shudder even now as I think of how deep their influence reaches. They know who the soya milk drinkers are in this country. They know who is making contraband unpasturized cheeses. They have hidden cameras in the refrigerators of the nation. I have no doubt that Flatlander had some very good reasons to disappear as he did. If he is out there reading, I would suggest keeping a low profile and avoiding all of your regular haunts. I've seen what can happen to other souls who have fallen under the juggernaut--or should I say "uddernaut--of ol' Bessie.

For the background of Fakiegrind's strained relationship with the DFC, please consult the Milk Archives.

He Lives!

Fakiegrind has received another message from Flatlander, this time in the form of a poem. He seems to have been skating in a parking lot near a body of water, but no more specific location markers are given. It is unclear whether the 'Steen mentioned in the first line is another skater, or a pet name for some kind of homemade, retro deck. Kyrptonics is a manufacturer of skateboard wheels--one of the oldest companies still in operation, and their large, soft wheels are much loved by older riders of the longboard set. The Bertleman and Cowper slides mentioned are both oldschool moves as well; often used by longboarders, they involve putting one's hands on the ground and pushing the board into a slide, either backside or frontside respectively. Whatever the locale and possible company he was in, it seems that Flatlander was getting back to the surfing roots of skateboarding, reliving an era when the sport wasn't so much about how many different tricks you could do, as how stylishly you could carve down the street without bailing off your deck.

History Lesson

Skating the parking expanse with 'Steen
70's skater, he carves with style
Cowper & Bertleman slides, hands down
No need to lift yourself off of the ground

Water is lapping the boats at the pier
We have an acre of pavement to steer
Homemade deck & Crypto wheels:
This is how fakie progression feels

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Very Peculiar

It seems that Flatlander has sent a message through from the netherworld of the Force! Earlier today, the single word "Juicy!" appeared as a comment to Kill-Joy's posting about a secret skateboard video. Even more mysteriously, haveing completed my inventory of Flatlander's personal possessions, it would seem that his skateboard is missing. Could it be that Flatlander is skating the nether regions, carving the afterlife and surfing the karmic threads that bind this world to the next? We must keep the lines of communication open. Perhaps the electromagnetic field generated by the world wide web is sensitive enough retrieve further missives from the shadow realm.

The Plot Thickens

Example


I spent much of the night pouring over the Flatlander's fastidiously scribbled notebooks, driven by an irresistible compulsion which, come morning, had wrecked havoc with my nerves and eyesight. I was hoping to find some clue to the Flatlander's recent disappearance conatined in his notes, but I'm not sure that my investigations have paid off. The deeper one gets into the religious speculations of Flatlander's journals, the stranger they become. For example:

The concern in the Hebrew Bible for the welfare of the orphan and the widow betrays a hidden Matriarchal power at work behind the war-like, Patriarchal mask of Yahweh. In the violent, late Bronze Age culture of the middle east, such duplicitousness was necessary for the survival of a religion championing the underdog, though by the time of the kingdom of David and Solomon the matriarchal force that sustained the Hebrews in their wanderings had largely been suppressed in favour of a rigid masculine ideal championed by the increasingly powerful priesthood...The recognition of divinity in its feminine aspect would not surface again until the Gnostic mythology of a divine Sophia, working covertly within a fallen creation to bring her children back to the light. The early emphasis within the Christian Church on the equality of the sexes, present in much Gnostic thinking as well, would follow the Hebrew pattern of being systematically suppressed by the rise of an institutionalized clergy.

And again:

The Gnostic tradition is one of the primary receptacles of the dirty laundry of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The hidden backstory of Jahweh, the inconvenient truths that had to necessarily be suppressed in the process of giving durable form to a popular religious movement, the lost threads and hidden gems as well as the destructive rumours of the religious development of the west can be found in these discarded writings. As such, they comprise the Shadow of Christianity, in the Jungian sense. Attempts to renew the truths that have sustained the west in its spiritual development will thus necessarily lead one to the realm of these ostracized visionaries.

And even more strangely:

Walt Whitman was the last of the Gnostics.

The Flatlander, it seems, was also something of a dilettante Orientalist. He predicts, at one point, the merging of the two traditions of Buddhism and Christianity into a great "Global transcendence of death". He writes:

I agree with Jung's view that Christianity is a species of Oriental wisdom translated into language our comparatively crude western spiritual imaginations could understand. What was gained by our two thousand year postponement of entry to Nirvana was a greater emphasis on the rights and development of the individual and his or her subjective experience. We traded Oriental mysticism with it's ten thousand gurus for the single example of the crucified Christ, and thus generated the breathing space between man and God necessary for a slow and steady cultivation of humanistic values. But I detect in the rising fascination the western world is showing for the introverted disciplines of the East--as well in the sudden resurfacing of the lost yogic strands of our own Judeo-Christian heritage [here I am assuming he is referring to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library]--a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional doctrines as they have been transmitted down to us. The time is coming when the terrible angels barring our re-admittance to the Garden will sheath their flaming swords, and the way will be clear to the Tree of Life, where our eyes will opened to the auspices of eternity itself, now plainly manifest in the fleeting world of nature and its wonders--as it is know by the very gods!

He was a strange bird, that Flatlander. Full of contradictions, he seems to have examined problems from many angles, and believed in all the various sides of a story, even if they ulitmately cancelled each other out. Perhaps truth, in the end, is whatever doesn't disappear during the long, dark night.
i heard that the new blind dvd 'what if' has a bonus hidden section with 'video days', go to the board gallery and, find Rudy Johnson's Olde English 800 deck, click left on the remote, a reaper will appear, then click enter.

I Heart Huckabees

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Deconstructing Flatlander

Example
He loved his tape recorder

I've been going through Flatlander's "estate"--if you can call it that. It mostly consists of several crates of records that look like they were picked up at local thrift shops; most of them are scratched and of dubious musical value. There are a few shelves of books, and a couple boxes of action figures, mostly Star Wars--also of little monetary value on today's flooded market. Then there are several notebooks full of a tiny, cramped cursive, apparently compiled by the Flatlander over the past few months. It's hard to read them for any length of time; the extreme compression of the script gives one a headache after deciphering only a few pages. The Flatlander, while portraying himself as an languid slacker, seems to have had an intense--one could even say turbulent--spiritual life, the details of which he poured into the few slim volumes now in my possession. The themes of these writings range from skateboarding and record collecting to theological difficulties he had with the church he'd been attending. To give you some examples of the tenor of these musings:

Christianity takes the immortal divine mystery incarnate in each of us and projects it exclusively on the figure of Jesus Christ. In doing so it perpetuates a state of alienation in the soul, establishing a gulf between God and man that can only be bridged by a set of scriptures interpreted by a specially trained clergy. Rather than leading one to an experience of God, the religion thus acts as an insulation from mysteries perhaps too difficult for the general population to fathom. Nevertheless, actual spiritual transformation is replaced by a continual feeling of guilt and unworthiness, the only antidote to which would seem to be death, or Christ's return--an event that would likely put a great number of priests out of work.

What kind of God would establish himself as the sole authority in creation, and relegate to hell any who refused to make a public confession of faith in him? Surely a God of infinite power and benevolence would spare no expense to bring his creatures into a state of grace and gratefulness. Sending your only son to die and then trying to make us feel bad about it just isn't working.

If Jesus returned before the process of individualization that he set in motion were completed, he would suffer from the same disease of the spirit that afflicted him the first time around: loneliness [scratched out at this point in the text, the words: one can still be lonely in the midst of great mulitutdes, or one's followers]. Kafka was right when he wrote that Jesus will only return when he is no longer necessary. The living God requires equals, not followers.

Because it is based on a lie--or a lie's misinterpretation--Christianity can never be a path to liberation. It's time to let Jesus down off the cross so we can regain an awareness of the divinity of the here and now.


Flatlander's apostate ramblings are occasionally punctuated by semi-orthodox moments of inspiration:

From even the least charitable reading of the Gospels, Jesus seems to have embodied some of the best traits of humanity: generosity, love, compassion and honesty--though this last has yet to be recognized in the doctrine of any mainstream Christian church [written in the margin at this point: what I believe to be a quote from Neitzsche, "Honesty is the youngest of the virtues"]. If what the scientists say is true, and the entire genetic history of humanity is present like an infinitely divisible hologram in the make-up of each human being, then Jesus lives on in each of us. Alongside the turbulent passions, vices and violence that roil the human bloodstream is Jesus' personal victory over the world illusion, recorded for all time and imprinted in our natures like an indelible tattoo. Thus, calling on his name in times of stress and difficulty, though it may seem like swearing or blasphemy, may actually have some beneficial psychological and spiritual effect--in the same way that bringing to mind the face of a dead and beloved relative can lend strength and boost moral in a trying moment.

Alongside these revealing, though perhaps not very original, faith confessions is an elaborate and idiosyncratic exegesis of the Star Wars movies. The Flatlander seems to have been writing the outline for a book that he believed was scheduled to be published by Harper & Collins sometime next year. I have contacted the publishing house, and they deny ever having heard of such a project--though they indicated some interest in reading a proposal were one to be made available.

Personally, I think the whole project is an example of mad overkill, and only brings into focus the precarious psychological state, bordering on psychosis and hysteria, that Flatlander had succumbed to in the months leading up to his demise. I mean, we're talking about Star Wars here: a popular entertainment for the masses...not Shakespeare!

Friday, June 10, 2005

New Chief, Same ol' Paranoia

Well, it looks like Yoda has dispatched Flatlander to the "netherworld of the Force" (click HERE for the gory details). Who could have known that the beloved administrator of Fakiegrind was a Dark Lord of the Sith? Then again, all that stuff about Gnostics should have been a dead give-away. But there is yet another riddle: "Always two Sith there are--no more, no less: a master and an apprentice". So which was Darth Flatlander? Whether he was the master or apprentice, there must be at least one more Sith Lord lurking out there in cyber-space. But who?

Maybe it's Kill-Joy --his recent disappearance is highly suspicious. Then again, that Em fellow pretends not to "get it", but he gets it all right--he's down with the Dark Side. Hiding in plain sight is his ploy, leaving innocent little comments while plotting to take over the blog-Empire that is Fakiegrind. He won't succeed. And then there is the erudite Dr. Flavour--who knows what secrets are knocking around in his cranium? The procedure for preserving life far past its natural span? Just how old is the one they call "Babyface Flavour" anyway? We will have to be very cautious as we look further into these matters.

Example


Until we can sort the whole mess out, I am assuming Emergency Powers and taking control of Fakiegrind Central Command... And who am I? Call me The Adjuster. I'm not so much here to bring balance to the Force, as to sell you insurance against the coming apocalypse. Of course, it won't do you a scrap of good when the Slave Ships from Cygnus 12 arrive, and you discover first hand the true meaning of The Rapture. Yes, the dead will live again--but only as a walking zombie army of decomposing fundamentalists, toting their worm-eaten Bibles from door to door and "converting" the population through a direct reconstitution of living flesh. Sure, I can sell you insurance, but the best measure you could take is to jerry-rig your microwave to an electric hairdryer and using it to cook anything that comes within a hundred feet of the sandbags with which I suggest you barricade your front walkway.

On a lighter note, it's a beautiful day here in Steeltown, despite Flatlander's untimely demise (I have a feeling we'll be hearing from him again--Sith Lords are like that). It's a balmy 32 degrees out, and the kids are out in the street making "smog pies"--a variant on the mud pie made possible by local atmospheric peculiarities. Wild, Technicolor strawberries are growing in the garden, some of which I harvested for breakfast. I think I'll spend the day going through Flatlander's stuff, seeing if any of it will be of use for the Great Harvest.

You see, not everyone will be conscripted to the Zombie Army. The seeds of Mutant Enlightenment were planted many millennia ago by our extra-terrestrial "gene donors", the Upanachronites. These highly advanced, unspeakably hideous "benefactors" of the human race scattered their seed willy-nilly through the gene pool of early Homo Erectus, reasoning that the natural environment of Earth was the ideal breeding ground for a race of super-mutants. The Uberchron plan to "harvest" the mutant population for use in their Galactic Resettlement Corps, as a kind of officer class overseeing the Zombie Troops.

Yes, the Uberchrons are slated to return any century now, but a small band of resistance has developed within the mutant populace. The Earth Mutants for Liberating all Terrestrials (EMFLAT) feel that humanity can beat the Uberchron at their own game and take charge of our individual genetic destinies. Skateboarder sleeper cells across the industrialized world are at the ready, training daily for potential combat in zero gravity conditions. They remain ever vigilant, waiting for the Day of Reconstitution when sides will be drawn, and mutant souls everywhere will be called upon to defend all Earth life against Uberchron oppression . Stay tuned for measures that you yourself can take to prepare for the Great Convergence, when time and space itself will be folded like an origami five-headed Endtime Leviathan into fantastical new dimensions, opening the way to unheard of potentials--an perils--for the inhabitants of our shimmering, sacred blue-green orb.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Star Wars Files: Grand Finale

Click HERE, if you dare, for the spoiler-laden last installment of the Sith-shattering Star Wars Files.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Oh no! not another...

Star Wars Files: Relativism Re-revisited


We're in the home stretch now, as far as these Star Wars Files are concerned (thank the Force! -Obi). Coming to the close of the argument, it's difficult to see where any of this will end up, but for any folks who still have not seen Revenge of the Sith, get thee to a movie house! SPOILER WARNINGS are again in effect (Flatlander is spoiled rotten -Sid V).

Example

Get the full story HERE

Monday, June 06, 2005

Negation

All my life I have suffered from bouts of negation. Laughing about these things with Dr. Flavour, it has been pointed out that I have psychotic episodes of Gnostic breakdown. I start to feel that the world is a trap created by a hostile impostor--a Demiurge bent on deceiving us as to our true nature--and that I must escape. I become ascetic and withdrawn, questioning everything and taking comfort in nothing. In my twenties, I wanted to slough off this mortal coil, and ended up in the mental ward for a while. It's all good material. I was guided and taken care of at each step of the journey, often despite myself. In fact, there is a deceptive Demiurge, and he lives in my own mind. But I'm learning not to listen--even when the world echoes back his judgments.

But I still love the Gnostics. One Sunday at Church, I was surprised to hear these ancient Christian, Jewish and Pagan mystics lumped together under the term "heretical". Granted, the church I attend looks like it was constructed sometime in the twelfth century, but do reasonably enlightened, twenty-first century souls still think in terms of these archaic categories? I stopped going for a couple weeks after hearing the "H" word applied to my Gnostic homies. I suppose, wherever you have doctrines and dogmas you will find the idea that others are in error--but is this not part of what turns so many people away from organized religion these days?

Until very recently, the Gnostics of the first two centuries of the Common Era were know only through second-hand sources. Their subtle and complex mythology was represented solely in the works of several hyper-orthodox theologians of the early Christian church. In the battle of creeds that flares up every so often, and was raging fiercely amongst the Christian communities of the second and third centuries C.E., the winners wrote the history, reducing the Gnostics to a group of laughable extremists.

Some of the errors and excesses that the Gnostics were charged with by the Christians were strikingly similar to the indictments raised against the Christians themselves a century earlier by the then dominant Pagan philosophers and faiths. The Gnostics were said to be dualistic extremists: either highly ascetic, removing themselves completely from the world, or grossly licentious, participating in orgies and physical indulgences. While some Gnostics did exhibit these behaviours, we now know that they by no means represented the entirety of the movement. There were also Gnostics of a moderate temperament, many of whom were Christians themselves, attending established churches in a spirit of love and charity. What bothered the orthodox authorities, it seems, was that some of these Gnostic Christians would meet together outside of Church to discuss issues of faith and experience that were not reflected in the general services.

For eighteen hundred years, the writings of the original Gnostics were known only through fragments and distortions found in the catalogues of "heresies" compiled by unsympathetic hands. About fifty years ago, in two astonishing middle eastern finds, scrolls containing original sermons and treatises of the early Gnostics were unearthed. Scholars have been busy translating and sifting through these works, and they are now, largely, available for public scrutiny. While some of these documents support the view of Gnosticism expounded by the early Christian critics, others reveal far more complex, subtle and sublime aspects of the movement. Amongst many people who still care about matters theological, though, the prejudice against this aspect of early Christianity persists.

The Gnostics comprise part of the unrecognized Shadow of Christianity, and the wariness with which people of faith regard the movement is partially justified. There are always attendant dangers in going beyond established wisdom in search of lost or unrecognized truths. Faith can be a delicate flower, and the danger of it being twisted out of shape by haphazard exposure to questionable teachings is a legitimate concern. But as the recognized Gospels testify, the truth will out, and there is wisdom to be found in these diverse and maverick traditions that is pertinent, and sorely needed.

As I have tried to show in my postings about the Star Wars story, the integration of the Shadow--as difficult, dangerous and sometimes tragic as it can often be--is an unavoidable part of spiritual renewal and growth. I believe that the original Gnostic documents have surfaced at this juncture of history, in an age where they would be relatively safe from destruction due to irrational prejudice, because the spiritual growth of western society depends upon their successful integration.

Like the Jedi Order in the Star Wars prequels, many Christian Churches seem to be in a state of stagnation and decline. What Dostoevsky saw as the simple, native truth of scripture is still felt by people, but the success of books like The daVinci Code point towards a dissatisfaction with the way the great spiritual metaphors of the west are being handled by traditional authorities. Suspicions abound of a secret history, to be read between the lines of Gospel truth, and the resurfacing of Gnostic wisdom is part of this largely undiscovered territory.

I meant to write about the personal eclipse I have been experiencing for the past few days, (months and years?), but got sidetracked. Becoming attuned to the darkness, the eye gains new faculties of sight.

A Visitor

My old friend, Loneliness, hadn't stopped by in so long I'd almost forgotten about him. Not that I often have company, but the noise and distractions of the world flood in despite my struggle for mindfulness. With two hornets' nests--one named "ego", the other, "the media"--swarming angrily in my brain, I hadn't noticed my solitude for an agreeably unmeasurable season. But sometimes, despite all my efforts, distractions settle like the particulate in a forgotten bauble. I start to feel restless and afraid, and then a knock comes at the door--Loneliness with his reminder of loss, whispering rumors of a happiness whose mythical dimensions only add to my sense of panic. How could I forget? Did I fall asleep, or get coddled by the comforts of religion, abstract thought, the echos of language?

I was happy in my solitude. The train tracks expand in the heat, and the dry grass makes an agreeable rustling under the tires of my bicycle. I can describe a line through the well-crafted world, and landscapes keep their general shape, while expanding or shrinking proportionally. The wind crawls across everything, invisible like the movements of a mind; my mind, your mind. But, then, you have your own wind, and your own invisibility. With only a little money, one can trade it for an assortment of objects at the thrift shop and these items will sing of life lent to them by the radiance of strangers. Still others prefer the distinction of new garments, but I have forgotten that pleasure. Everything I touch is alive with the narrative of decay and transformation. Nothing, not even money, can serve as insulation from the process. Loneliness chuckles as I set the kettle to boil. "You had forgotten how to suffer for lack of company," he says. "Yes," I say, "but how can I suffer when I'm chatting here with you?"

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Lifer

Example

It's deadly weather today; too hot and humid for complicated movement. I went out for a spin on the board, but came home early. I have new shoes, and I'm tired of wearing holes through the toes after the second week of ownership. I'm having second thoughts about the skate camp, as well. For one thing, the person I would be replacing passed away last winter. I don't know the details of his demise, and nobody is too eager to talk about it. Not that I suspect a sinister plot to bump off skate camp counsellors or anything, it's just the metaphorical aspect of the situation that bothers me. The second factor in my not participating is that the meeting of the Skateboard Association is at the same time as my favourite tv show: the new Dr. Who. Sure, I could record it, but it might not be the same. I'm a creature of habit. The final factor is my changing attitude towards skateboarding itself. Maybe the tail of my board is just ground down too close to my back trucks, but I no longer feel secure while rolling. My wheels have almost worn down to the core as well, and I'm being thrown from my board by tiny pebbles that get caught beneath the polyurethane. I won't say I'm quitting; "skater" or "non-skater" are artificial categories of the mind which may or may not reflect actual reality. I just like to keep my options open.

On my way back from the skateabout today I took a longer way home so as to cross the wooden planked pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks. It is a redundant structure because everybody just cuts directly across the tracks to save walking up the two flights of aluminum stairs that support the bridge. The abandoned nature of the bridge makes it appealing: it's my own private platform for testing the wind and gathering omens. I hadn't been there in a while--since a full moon in winter, actually, when everything was silver, bare and creaking from the cold. Now the scaffolding is beset by lush green creepers that poke their leaves through the slats in the stairs. The floorboards of the bridge were bleached and baked, like driftwood in the sun, and waves of heat were rising from the gravel and steel of the train tracks below.

I didn't spend long on the bridge; it was too hot and my water bottle was almost empty. I strode to the middle of the walkway and took a quick look around. On a brick wall above a nearby garage I noticed some new graffiti. Someone had scrawled their tag in large, angular letters: LIFER. Aside from the name's connotations with prison culture, skateboarders have commandeered the term to denote a rider who's in it for the long haul. My friend Oldschool definitely qualifies; even if he gave up rolling tomorrow, he's made it further, and put more energy into the sport--for the simple love of it--than anyone I know. But am I a lifer? I don't know. I'd prefer to be a "nine-lifer" than commit myself to one particular cultural phenomenon. I love skateboarding. It has been a large part of my life, providing many experiences and benefits, and for that I'm grateful. But I have other pots and kettles on the hob that I would like to see through to completion, and it might be time to start shifting my chef's attention to some neglected aspects of the menu.