Militant Skating

Militant Skating

I invented the skateboard.

I apologize for the pain this has caused. How many shopping centers have had to post, “no skateboarding” signs? How many little old ladies exiting the grocery store had to jump out of the way, dropping a carton of eggs, as a polymer-wheeled Mongol whizzed past?

Skateboarding can be a crime.

Back in 1960, beach party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello were popular. Most kids didn’t have ocean nearby, and couldn’t surf. But they still needed to emulate false heroes.

One momentous day, I and a neighbor kid from across the street, took apart a girl’s metal skate, one of those old skates that clamped onto your shoe by use of a skate key. We nailed the two separated halves to the bottom of a board. Cool man! Surfing on concrete.

The entire activity was confined to a tiny patch of white cement in my parents’ front yard. Those brittle metal wheels couldn’t handle street asphalt.

Did I patent my pioneering efforts? Not on your life. I missed earning millions. The rest is history.

I did a column about this in a newspaper. I kidded that I thought I could better communicate with today’s skateboarders by painting a picture of an elk on a cave wall by torchlight (like they’re Neolithic cave dwellers—-get it!)

All right, so the joke was lame.

I was totally unprepared for the firestorm of rage I got from letters to the editor. One woman named Vicki said, “okay ace! You’re through! I’m gonna fix you, buster!”

She intimated that I was a hate-mongering Neo-Nazi, racist, sexist. I found out later she was the treasurer of a skating organization with a financial interest in skateboarding, a fact she failed to disclose in her letter.

She threatened the publisher that she’d go to merchants and get them to withdraw advertising from his publication if my column wasn’t terminated. The publisher, a gutless yellow coward, caved in, practically trembling as he warned me to, “never write anything critical of anyone again.”

The paper also received a letter from a skateboarding club, threatening me with physical violence.

Another letter came from a pompous ass who claimed he invented the skateboard, in 1948. Five times he boasted he was a person who was “always trying to make things better.” He obviously never heard of the boredom of repetition.

I wrote him back, saying, “you didn’t invent the skateboard. Surfing wasn’t widespread in 1948. What you invented was a handlebar-less wooden scooter.”

I got fired from the little newspaper. What ever happened to freedom of the press?

It all started as a kid going round and round a tiny patch of cement in the front yard. That people would get this angry over something so insignificant is scary enough. That it would spread world-wide, become organized and militant, is downright terrifying.



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