Ok, so this is where I write all about “youth” through the beer-goggled lens that was my summer of travels and adventures with a bunch of borderline scumbags. Are you ready? If not stop reading. But wait! First, know this: there is only one truth: death. We will all die and there is no God or higher power, unless of course you consider electro-magnetism. That’s a fine conversation I am willing to have, but elsewhere. All else aside, you live and die; but that “and” in there can be pretty fucking rad if you do it right. Despite our many follies, my friends and I managed to carve out a healthy slice of “and” time this summer. Our troubles melted in the sun and we achieved what felt like some new rendition of the American Dream, measured in leisure and carefree self-abuse rather than financial success. To be sure, our collective financial situation was altogether devastated by the merrymaking.
If you are still with me then good for you–most good ‘ole fashion American readers have thrown this magazine down and are sitting cross-armed with scowls on their faces shaking their heads disdainfully. Before I continue, allow me to add two caveats, two little tidbits, I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for various reasons. The first is Fuck Arizona (the hot-tubs there are too hot!), and the second, obviously, is Fuck Golf.
Anyway, as I was saying, life and death. Ya’ gotta do your damndest to stretch that “and” out. Well, stretching requires some application of force, which is attained via movement. That’s the ticket: movement. In a word, youth is about movement; and death is defined by its stillness. People such as myself find that one of, if not the, best way to prolong youth is by moving often and quickly. That’s why extreme athletes seem to maintain their teenagedness (such as myself, and yes I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am an extreme motherfucking athlete and that this article is actually about the X-Treme sport of skateboarding). It’s also why Lance Armstrong was able to lose a nut and still win the Tour de France (although the steroids helped too, a lot). Finally, constant movement is why George Clooney seems like such hot shit in the first half of the Jason Reitman film, Up in the Air. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the movie where he is basically a professional airplane passenger. His job requires him to fly daily like an angel of death who swiftly delivers mass layoff notices to hardworking people. But none of this phases Clooney, because his persistent movement creates an almost impenetrable bubble of youthful bliss. Eventually, the bubble pops, when Vera Farmiga’s character gives him a reality check and breaks his heart. That point in the movie is sort of analogous to the hangovers I endured at regular intervals this summer. But unlike Clooney’s character, who only had 109 minutes of screen time to make a full character arc, I had days upon days to rebound from my lows.
So what the hell am I talking about? I am talking about a phenomenon called #justcroozin2012. What’s that? It’s an Instagram hash tag in the inter web. What’s that? I don’t really know. Less than five years ago, such nomenclature would be utterly meaningless. Before the invention of the hashtag-o-plex realm, our experiences with ampersands were proportionate to our pay phone usage. When compared to the Industrial Revolution, our generation hasn’t actually invented shit in the way of tangible objects that enhance our lives. We just re-invent phones and cameras and load them up with time wasting methods to avoid actually talking to people in real life. These lamentations aside, what do exist are actual people and their stories, which sometimes intersect with other people to create a larger story. Sometimes, from this is even born an idea. I broached an idea earlier: movement = youth. That was the unspoken idea driving #justcroozin2012. And due to our current point in time and technology, the various debauched intersections between my friends and I that corroborated that idea were documented via Instagram. What follow will be brief character sketches of the actors and captions describing the fateful events.
The #justcroozin2012 experience happened all over the island of Oahu, tended to by bright skies and crystalline seas. In total, the island played host to somewhere between 10 and 12 men with skateboards, unshaven faces and beers in hand up and down the month of August, 2012. Half of these gents hailed from California, while myself and the others were locals. But the process of convincing the Cali boys to get over to Hawaii was an adventure itself which takes us back into June and July, during which time I was gallivanting around Los Angeles.
Every day in L.A. was a skate mission and every night was a party of some kind. The name of my game was “say yes to everything.” This M. O. led to skate spots, schoolyards, skate parks, rooftops in the Hollywood Hills, hotel balconies, the ‘Bu, Las Vegas for 24 hours during which many drugs and dollar margaritas were consumed, and Palm Springs for an entirely different 24 hours during which rental car keys were literally lost among the tumbleweeds. As I embarked on each of these experiences, my main goal was to try to spread enough Aloha vibes to my compadres in hopes of sealing the deal on a Hawaiian trip, upon which I could return their favors and allow them to wreck havoc on my turf. It worked.
The first photos in #justcroozin2012 come from the feed of my buddy Max. Max is a small man with a big heart and a newly formed affinity for a red and green shot called the Wolfbite. He acquired a taste for them at Honolulu’s Downbeat Diner and Lounge, where he consumed a record eight in one sitting. This is not recommended. The green color in the Wolfbite comes from absinthe, and to the typical drinker one splash of the bohemian elixir is enough to send the night into a tailspin. Max learned to dismiss such myths and ordered them with muscle memory by the end of the trip. He was not immune to their effects, and after a half dozen was hitting on waitresses before mustering the wherewithal to film himself vomiting in the toilet. Regardless of his drinking, Max managed to skate better than he had in months while he was in Hawaii. “Mucho take it easy, bro”–so says the tattoo on his foot, next to Shamoo the whale and a tiny palm tree.
Also emerging from the Insta-feed are numerous pictures of a semi-nude white Neanderthal named Elliott, or Big El. Elliott is like a dual citizen of the U.S. and the U.K., so half of him is really polite and the other half likes to party, but I am not sure which half performs which function. Either way, he gets MVP for most attempts to get girls and to do, at all times, “whatever is raging” (a term also used often on this trip). For instance, there is a lovely group shot in the album of all of the boys nestled on Sunset Beach around a 30-rack of Coors Light, but Elliott is nowhere to be seen. We scanned the horizon for his albino hide and lo and behold there he is at the water’s edge talking to a brunette girl. We call for him and he comes running up, “She’s from Burbank!!!” He was a trooper through and through, enduring sun burns on the trans-island skate park tour and numerous swift shutdowns from bar side cougars. In the end he did manage to score though, albeit in a Porta-Potty after a polo game that nobody watched. Raging bull.
The third of the Los Angelenos to make it out for the adventure was professional skate photographer Sam Muller. Sam was not supposed to come, and Sam does not like the beach. His shirt rarely ever even comes off. That shit just ain’t gucci with him. But after seeing the first few photos pop up on the ‘gram, he shelled out for a ticket. So on the night of the first ever HI Skate Film Series, a skateboarding film festival, at the Honolulu Museum of Art (curated by yours truly) I received a crazy phone call amid the after-party from Sam telling me to meet him at the airport the following day for a covert pick-up mission. Finagling this proved difficult, but I managed to convince the whole gang, who had been depending on me for all transportation, that I had to go to the hospital to get x-rays on my back or hip, which had in fact been bothering me due to a skate injury. Could I have concocted a less complicated lie? Probably. The lie led to many more white lies, to the extent that I found myself wandering around Pearl Ridge Mall for hours before Sam’s arrival, while all my friends thought I had been admitted to the ICU at Kaiser Hospital. Worth it. Sam finally flew in and I delivered his haole ass to the world famous A’ala Skate park where everyone was skating. The looks on everyone’s faces was amazing. Sam managed to get some great photos, but incidentally did not manage to score in a Porto-Potty or elsewhere, despite the ample opportunities afforded him. Next time.
Finally, we come to my best friend Adrian Adrid, who grew up in Hawaii, but moved to L.A. about 5 years ago to skate big time. He is the guy in the photo with the insane bleached hair and perma-grin on his face. Even when his face looks angry, he is usually joking. Best fucking dude. Needless to say, he slaughtered every skate park and spot on the island, as per usual when he returns to visit. Like his smile, Adrian rarely takes off his little red shorts. He likes to be able to hop out of moving vehicles on a whim to go scamper off and dive into the ocean. He did this several times in bad traffic, sometimes skating in the middle of Kam. Hwy. to get far enough ahead of the car to intercept us dripping wet. Yeah grom.
The rest of us are the locally-based Hawaiians. We grew here you flew here, etc. In our day in age, the memory loss associated with insobriety is finally meeting its match, as ubiquitous cameras seem to come out even more readily in drunken hands. Every moment is documented, which can be helpful when one wants to get nostalgic or detrimental when one wants to get a high-profile job. But who wants that? I recommend moving at high speeds for as long as possible.
Maybe death is simply a world of photographic negatives where all the colors are inverted, and everything is darker in the day and the nights are brighter and more raging.
In the meantime give the shutter-speeds something to compete with. Relegate your stillness to the realm of photo stills. Stay positive and live in the realm of the positives.