photo manipulation by nacrowe
there was a moment in the late 1980s and early 1990s when SKATEBOARDING was in a state of transition from VERT to STREET SKATING. this had as much to do with economics and the gradual democratization of the sport (because who could afford a ramp or a pool?) as it did a grassroots movement in youth culture. POWELL & PERALTA co-owner and film director STACY PERALTA knew this and wanted to promote street SKATING as a vehicle fo kids to take up the sport (and presumably purchase his boards). enter PAULO DIAZ, GUY MARIANO, GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ (R.I.P.) and RUDY JOHNSON. all in their teens at the time, they were a cohort of young riders that did their thing together as a group, supporting and encouraging one another. they rode for a local LOS ANGELES shop that PERALTA was clued into by an assistant and filmed them for his BAN THIS (POWELL & PERALTA, 1989) release.
THE LA. BOYS (THE ORCHARD, 2016) is an intriguing documentary that examines the impact of that influential video part in BAN THIS that focused on crew of DIAZ, MARIANO, RODRIGUEZ and JOHNSON from the perspective of the industry as well as fellow riders. notable interviewees include all four riders as well as STACY PERALTA, TONY HAWK, MIKE CARROLL, ERIC KOSTON, RAY BARBEE, KEITH HUFNAGEL, CHAD MUSKA, FABIAN ALOMAR, JOEY SURIEL, BILLY VALDES and KENNY ANDERSON among various underground filmmakers and cinematographers. the sense you get is that "THE L.A. BOYS" served as evidence of an organic phenomena of urban youth creating SKATE CREWS that collectively transformed their surrounding cityscape into a seemingly endless canvas of obstacles to grind, slide and interact with. no need for a ramp or pool.
there is also the community aspect of these four riders being picked from obscurity and promoted as a collective. all four proved the ethos of SKATEBOARDING as a bonding activity that didnt necessarily need to be competitive. sure, each of them wanted to progress and due gnarly tricks, but equally they wanted to see their friends due them. its interesting given the moment SKATEBOARDING is right now, with the legitimacy of the OLYMPICS bestowing upon this underground activity a sort of forum to spread the gospel. for all that exposure, what is essentially being pushed is a competition that is divorced from the experience of the majority of riders. what is being promoted and monetized by multi-national corporations and an indifferent media ecosystem is a new animal altogether that seeks to create narratives, storylines and legacies.
in other words its all bullshit.
riding, learning and interacting with your friends. that was the message of that group of riders as pushed and promoted by STACY PERALTA and his company. i find no issue with that. seems to be a pretty sweet and hopeful vision of a supportive, nurturing environment to make mistakes and progress and build together. i can get with that.