Everyday Hybridity

Dr Paul O'Connor
Anthropology/Sociology/Cultural Studies/
Hong Kong/Ethnicity/
Skateboarding/Everyday Life

Lecturing in Anthropology at CUHK

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cuhk.academia.edu/PaulOConnor
@peejayohhsee
everydayhybridity@gmail.com

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  1. Skateboard Philanthropy - Etnies give out shoes to Homeless in LA

    Over the last decade there has been a surge in skateboard philanthropy, from Skateistan, A-Skate and Board Rescue. In the skate media today is news of skate shoe company Etnies giving out free shoes to 2,000 homeless people as part of Easter goodwill. This is by no means a new activity, it is something that Etnies have been doing since 1998 (More here)

    It also provides a contrast to the issue that skateboarders often encounter homeless people as they skate and use void places of the city. This is a dynamic that has been represented in countless skate videos and magazines. Put simply, skateboarders and the homeless spend a lot of time on the streets, but they also share varying experiences of exclusion. Bad representations of skateboarders are thus challenges by philanthropy, being a force for inclusion both people in need and skateboarders themselves.

    A further development of this inclusion emerging from Nebraska where 'Skate for Change' has seen skateboarders taken time to give simple supplies to homeless people, and to also importantly acknowledge them. Mike Smith urges ‘Skate for Change’ to be a force for skaters to make an impact in the community, not simply by helping the homeless, but by cleaning up, fixing things, and connecting with people. 

     

     
     
  2. Morrison Hill - Skate Park

    One of Hong Kong’s best skate spots is a hybrid space. Not a specifically designed skate-park, not strictly a found space. Morrison Hill skatepark was actually designed as a bicycle track. However the curved track, large humps, and smooth surface attracted skateboarders. Eventually it became evident that the park was a key spot for skateboarders, their presence often outnumbering cyclists, or other users. About 10 years ago the LCSD re-zoned the park to be a cycle and skate-track.

    Skaters passing through Hong Kong tend to have this spot on their list of ‘must-skate’ places. 

    One reason why it is so unique is because it wasn’t designed for skateboarding and thus it has a novel imperfection that makes it endlessly curious. It also has a circular flow which allows you to skate continuous lines in a very organic, street skating fashion that many skateparks do not facilitate.

    It has featured in many skateboard videos. Over the years I have encountered Eric Koston, Rick McCrank, Tim O’Connor, the Zoo York, and Almost teams at this spot.

    In a less overt way, it is also a place like Burnside or South Bank. Places that have become appropriated by skateboarders and in the end awarded to them.

     
     
  3. Graffiti in Mumbai via the Holy Stoked Facebook page.
The original source is from an interesting blog about urban art 'Graffiti in India' - well worth a look if you like graffiti or urban and public art.

    Graffiti in Mumbai via the Holy Stoked Facebook page.

    The original source is from an interesting blog about urban art 'Graffiti in India' - well worth a look if you like graffiti or urban and public art.

     
     
  4. Recently I posted some items on skating in unusual terrain.
Here in a promotional campaign for California Bob Burnquist pieces together a bizarre floating ramp. Like the previous example of the water based skate bowl, this eye-catching terrain does not really seem conducive to skateboarding. In the video Burnquist loses his board in the water at least once, and finishes with a 50-50 into the deep.

    Recently I posted some items on skating in unusual terrain.

    Here in a promotional campaign for California Bob Burnquist pieces together a bizarre floating ramp. Like the previous example of the water based skate bowl, this eye-catching terrain does not really seem conducive to skateboarding. In the video Burnquist loses his board in the water at least once, and finishes with a 50-50 into the deep.

     
     
  5. There are 50 million skateboarders world wide. There are 15 in Myanmar. 

    Official Selection Byron Bay Film Festival 2014
    Nominated for Best Documentary at the International Skateboard Film Festival in Los Angeles 2013
    Official Selection Newport Beach Festival Los Angeles 2013

     
     
  6. Skateistan Kabul - Faranas’ Story - PUSH

    "When a Skateistan staff member first encountered a group of young girls in a Kabul park in December 2009, she had no way of knowing that one of them would go on to become one of Afghanistan’s best skaters, and Skateistan’s most enthusiastic instructor, not to mention a natural artist. This is Faranas’ story."

     
     
  7. Reflecting on some ideas about inclusion and exclusion in skateboarding,  here are some further thoughts on terrain that follow on from another recent post.

    I had a skate earlier today at the beach. Sand is a hazard to the skateboard, it immediately swallows the wheels and brings all movement to an abrupt halt. It also gets inside the bearings and damages your wheels. It is another terrain in which the skateboard is, by its own nature, excluded.

    As I previously discussed, water is similarly a zone of exclusion bringing both danger and damage to the board. 

    In a short piece to the 1996 Girl Skateboards’ film Mouse, Rick Howard finds himself transported to ‘The Woods’. He proceeds to skate this most unusual terrain. Sticks and leaves again being most inhospitable terrain to the skateboard, the piece is immediately eye catching. Whilst presenting skateboarding in a zone it cannot inhabit Spike Jonze, who directed the short piece, is able to play on the natural imagery of the woods and posit another notion. The suggestion I read is that the city, which melts away as Howard collects his board from the car, is the ‘natural’ realm of the skateboard. Urban space is imagined in its absence as a place of freedom and exploration in its substitution as ‘The Woods’. 

    A variety of innovations have facilitated a type of off road skateboarding with large wheels and even motors. Yet the standard skateboard design is simply excluded from certain environments and has an affinity with urban space.

    There are a variety of examples of snowboarding, sand boarding, and in what one blogger has noted as a homage to Jonze and Howard, Leaf boarding.

     
     
  8. This great piece from Jenkem Mag on corporate skate culture now has a comment section 35 pages long. It is a really engaging topic and the feedback is topical and right up to date.

    This great piece from Jenkem Mag on corporate skate culture now has a comment section 35 pages long. It is a really engaging topic and the feedback is topical and right up to date.

     
     
  9. I got hold of the text ‘Reclaiming the Street’ from the CUHK architecture library. It covers an architectural competition about designing new spaces or skateboarders in urban environments. 

    I include a couple in the above post that really stood out. These are just concepts, they have not been actually built. The first one is the ‘path of least resistance’ or PLR by Block9architects. The second one is a really fascinating idea of a skateboard bowl that can be positioned in water. The idea being to take skateboarding out of its typical context and put it where it is no practiced…by water. . My aversion to having my board anywhere near water is strong. I even find it hard to walk through puddles with or without my boards because of the desire not to get my grip wet.

    Some great ideas in the collection, here is a link to some more info.

    Also as some further contribution to skateboarding and the wet, Kyle Leeper.

     
     
  10. "The skate park is the epicentre of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London. This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years. It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area - it helps to make London the great city it is."
    — 

    Boris Johnnson  Mayor of London - 

    This comes from a press release from the Greater London Authority. It is a remarkable sign of the way in which skateboarding has become recognised as a cultural component of London city. At a wider level this indicates a recognition of street skate culture from the conservative elements which skateboarding has acted in resistance against.

    Is this a sign of triumph for skateboarders or an indication of its increased domesticity? A question in which I have recently come to ask as street skating emerged because skateboarders had no place else to go. It moved to become a way of creating a ludic city. Challenging what too often is conceived of a sterile civic place and providing new meaning. If skateboarders are given spaces in the city, that mimic the city, what does that ultimately mean for skateboarding?

    Preserve Southbank, but also recognise that skateboarding must still find and lay claim to new places. Southbank represents that organic nature of reclaiming public space and the creative use of urban environments for new cultural activities. 

    http://www.london.gov.uk/media/mayor-press-releases/2014/01/mayor-supports-skate-park-rethink

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/skateboarders-stoked-as-boris-johnson-backs-them-in-fight-to-stay-at-the-south-bank-9063250.html

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/15/southbank-skatepark-boris-johnson

    http://www.llsb.com