Reader Feedback: Ask Not For Whom the Pretentious Windbag Wallows

antigravity_vol12_issue5_Page_04_Image_0001We got some of y’all taking last month. Here’s what you had to say, via your ‘puters. First, our provocateur-laureate Jules Bentley, as usual, took the brunt of your ire for  his People’s History of Mardi Gras piece, “Farewell to the Flesh: Notes on a Cybernetic Carnival.”

This article is typical hipster posturing. “I was into DIY parades before it was cool, man. You probably never heard of Eris. It was pretty underground.” Give me a break. The only thing I smell is a pretentious windbag wallowing in his own filth. —”Williamina Soros”

I realize this article was intended to over-dramatize. However, as I was present at this year’s Chewbacchus, I can attest that I didn’t encounter any physical contact (“clammy” or otherwise), I didn’t see anyone “panting ” or “convulsing ” nor was there any smell in the air that is not usually present in the 9th Ward. I’m not affiliated with the krewe nor do I have any interest in vouching for them. I just thought the derogatory statements here veered so far from reality that the author should be called out. —Craig

Next up, some of y’all pined for the skate culture of yore after reading “Gracious Host: Parisite Ushers in a New Era of NOLA Skate Culture” by Robert Landry and Dan Fox.

As a lifelong skateboarder from NOLA since ‘96, I’m not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I’m happy to see the city being more positive and willing to chill a little, but on the other hand, I don’t like what’s happening to skateboarding in our city. This is New Orleans. We’re loud, violent, dirty, and real. We’re not California, and skateboarding is not  little league. All this hippy/DIY crap is getting real old. It’s cool, but it seems like it’s being  done just for the sake of being cool. Are the primary people involved even from here? Were they born and raised in this city? Do they even skate? Or are they introducing ideals from more affluent areas? Just like all the new hipster, uptown bars and food trucks? This is not my New Orleans. DIY skating means skating in streets on something skate-able that was not meant to be skated. Adapting to your city, not having the city adapt to you. I’m glad we have another place to skate, but it will never be the only place. Skateboarding belongs in the streets.

OG legend Warren Day would get kicked out of skate parks for screaming, cursing and breaking boards. To me, that will always be New Orleans skateboarding. Kids should feel intimidated. It builds character. We’re too busy trying to all be friends and scared to hurt someone’s feelings. Life has winners and losers. I don’t want my kids (yes I have two young boys) to play any sport where everyone gets a trophy, or where they don’t feel bad for sucking at skateboarding. That feeling will either make them try harder and be dedicated to skating and fall in love with it (like it did for me), or make them give up, in which case they never loved it to begin with. Like I said, I don’t know how to feel about this. Ultimately, it’s a good thing. But we still need remember that the focus should always be on skateboarding and preserving our unique New Orleans skate culture. —Rforet

Responding to Rforet:

I can relate to your ambivalence. And I’m one of the park’s organizers! You say “New Orleans skate culture” as if that’s one obvious thing we can all agree on. If that’s so, why do we have so many arguments and knock-down drag-out fights about EVERYTHING related to the park, and to skateboarding in general? Put 10 skaters in a room and you have 15 opinions—15 rabid, passionate opinions! That’s because it isn’t one thing. To you and your friends, it was one thing,  and it was obvious what it was. But that’s no longer true. Do you really want to tell the poor and working class kids of Gentilly that they MAYBE shouldn’t  have a skatepark, because of… Warren Day? What a bizarre invocation of his name.

You say you like tough talk that risks hurting feelings—is that what you want from me? As a boy raised working class in the Bronx, I can certainly go there, but I just don’t have it in me to battle other skaters. I see it as a huge waste of my time. I’m too busy building a park. I’ve been spending 20, 30 hours a week on the park, with no pay, and there’s a group of us doing this. We’re not just building Parisite. We’ve also been talking to the city about building OTHER parks, because we think  New Orleans can support at least 4 big ones and several smaller ones. We’re talking about incorporating skateable elements in existing public spaces. And we’re working to make sure city council doesn’t make skateboarding illegal in the CBD. You heard right. We’re on the case.

For the record, I was raised by a single working class mom in the Bronx. But I did most of my skating in Seattle in the 90s. Years later, I was on a bike and was hit by a car, and as a result you won’t see me doing any high-impact activities at this point in my life. But I have figured out ways to stay involved because I can’t get it out of my blood. I encourage you to look us up on Facebook and come meet us. You might decide that we are, in fact, everything you stand against, and that’s fine. Get to know me first, then judge. I can live with it. —Skylar

finally, from King Louie (in a string of texts), regarding our characterization of Natas Kaupas as  a “vert legend.”

Dude, Natas was sponsored as a STREET pro. He didnt skate vert. Nor did he demo as a vert skater. I was at the Skate West Natas demo. He spray painted a car and skated on it while Catch 22 (local hardcore band who really thought they were from England) played. Also JFJ Skate Shop sponsored Bobby Pavonie at least two years before Larry [Blossom] was on the sponsorship level. And I think he even went pro for Epic for a short while. AND I MEAN THAT AS NO SLAM TO LARRY WHO RULES! And my  shop [Louie’s River Ridge Ace Hardware] also had three local riders. Not gonna make it about my shop. But Skate West used to buy all there Powell Peralta decks from us. Powell wouldn’t sell to them. Powell had minamal orders and we had always met there standards. I don’t think they were a business. Just some kids dad slapped up a sign… but thats actually cool too. Nice article anyway. —King Louie