Powell Peralta and Vision had the super stars/supermodels, Santa Cruz had the street demons, H-Street was all the young upstarts and tech guys, but Alva….Alva Skates…., now THEY were the real deal! The down and dirty ditch rippers. The guys that skated bowls in combat boots. The guys with leather jackets and tattoos and daggers spray painted on their grip tape. The guys you were afraid of, kinda. The guys that got the black and white printed ads in the back pages of Thrasher, instead of the glossy colored ads in the front of the magazine.The punks and skins and dreadlocked madmen of skateboarding’s grimy underbelly. Guys like Bill Danforth, Fred Smith III, Eddie Reatagui, Dave Duncan, Jim Murphy, John Gibson, Graig Johnson and Jef Hartsel. They were my heroes……
Ironically, I went through a phase of re-watching most of Robin Williams’ old movies a few months before he passed away. Apart from Good Will Hunting, which gets a semi-regular re-viewing, I hadn’t seen most of his movies since I was a child. For the most part they still hold up, unlike the knee-jerk teenage reaction that once deemed them uncool, among a host of other things that were likewise held dear in the pre-teen years. It seems to be a natural part of growing up that your tastes don’t just expand to incorporate new discoveries, but rather everything old must be not only cast out but ridiculed to make way for the new. Robin Williams movies were just one casualty. Stephen King, and genre movies in general, were another when you discovered more “serious” art. The whole spectrum of radio and music television programming, not to mention all your parents’ musical tastes, went out the window the first time you heard real heavy metal, but no sooner had you stocked up on Metallica, Maiden and Priest albums did you hear punk rock for the first time and your entire record collection became an embarrassment. Likewise when you moved on to hardcore. The sober fury of Youth Of Today and Minor Threat left no room for the Ramones and the Sex Pistols that now sounded like a joke. Never mind that they always were, and that was the point. Any record of your younger interests and obsessions had to be hidden, shunned, or mocked in service to your present self, like old school photos or memories of bad hair cuts. Any evidence that you were once, or twice or fifty times, a different person, had to be kept well away from the forensic investigators of adolescent cool.
It’s a relief when you finally realise it’s all good, or none of it is. That you can listen to the Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd, Fugazi and Kill ‘Em All and the Grateful Dead and Kate Bush. You can like Francois Truffaut as much as Freddy Krueger and you can still watch Robin Williams movies. Although some things probably should be left where they lie. Limp Bizkit need never be rediscovered, and Bicentennial Man didn’t really warrant a second viewing, but at least I’ve come to the realisation that Miss Honey was hot. Jumanji and Hook will be permanently ingrained in the childhood memories of at least one generation, so much so that Williams’ eventual turn to villainous fare like One Hour Photo, Insomnia and even Death To Smoochy had way more of an effect than any other comic actor moving to serious work. It was like discovering your ideal, cool TV dad was actually more like your creepy, touchy uncle.
Robin Williams will be permanently etched into my memory for another reason too. This last Christmas/New Years I was in New York City for the first time. On New Years Eve Li and I headed down to the Brooklyn waterfront for a show that ended up being sold out so we spent the night wandering the streets before falling into a random bar to catch the ball drop, with plans to head over the Williamsburg Bridge afterwards and have a huge night in Manhattan. This being New Years Eve, and our first time in New York, and us being indefensible old people, we ended up heading back to our apartment to have sex and watch Mrs Doubtfire instead. It was the best New Years I’ve ever had.