Doing What I Do
Doing what I do, regretfully I need to be careful about the things I say because, well… publishing ain’t what it used to be and unfortunately magazines aren’t the invincible, insuperable powers theyonce were. So in the spirit of ‘treading lightly’, let me distinguish for the readers of this Time Capsule, that Shake Junt is (was) a phenomenon that is (was) happening (in the early 10s) sweeping a generation of skateboarders with fun antics and positive messages of drinking 40s, smoking weed, eating fried chicken—and celebrating it with a good ol’ fashioned booty shaking contest. It’s the type of brand any fourteen year-old would make if given the opportunity; Tacky, over the top, rude, and totally awesome.
“Chicken Bone Nowison”, the Shake Junt skateboard video premiered across North America over the course of the last month, coupled with that of “Poisonous Products” an independent skateboard film from New York. Both videos couldn’t be more different, so witnessing the mix of crowds that would attend the premieres was going to be interesting.
I travelled to New York City for the world premiere of my good friend Jeremy Elkin’s film, Poisonous Products. A phone call home to arrange the pick up of “as much chicken you can get for $50” turned out to be much more than needed for the Shake Junt premiere I had planned back home despite the fact Astoria (in Vancouver) recorded a record amount of bar sales that night. I didn’t mind shelling out to help the party but I was adamant about the chicken coming from Prime Time, a spot up on Main and Hastings, that used to be a Gastown novelty when I first moved to the city because you could get chicken and ice cream for a mere $2. I may not have been able to attend, but I’d get my kicks just thinking about that greasy grime, I’m sure nobody had the slightest clue about.
Before I knew it, I was in Boston. Elkin and I had hopped the megabus in Manhattan for a ‘journey’ that would consist only of delivering a DVD copy of his video to Orchard Skateshop to show it, then destroy it immediately afterward. Confusing the distance between NYC and Boston, with that of Philadelphia (90 minutes), we arranged nothing and planned to trek back to New York directly after to enjoy the more of the mild weather they’d been getting. Realizing though that this would mean 8-10 hours on a bus we found ourselves an affordable hotel in the area and were picked up at the station by his friend Topher who he attended prep school with to get us checked in before the premiere.
Coming from a filming session of his own, Topher introduced us to the young skaters in his cramped sedan and I would remain silent most of the drive, taking in the local slang and nuances that characterize the state of Massachusetts. The younger one talked of the time he was in some place there with his parents when he was about ten years old and the Red Bull skate team rolled in, and just how excited he was. It’s always comforting to be around skaters in a new place because there’s an immediate familiarity. No matter how rich or poor or what the age difference is, you know you’ve both seen a lot of the same videos, magazines, etc. and there’s an unspoken bond of understanding.
As we pulled into the 21/2 star hotel roundabout it became clear that these kids probably hadn’t met a Canadian before. They hadn’t travelled much either, or rather, hadn’t stayed in a hotel… ever. The hotel was just up the hill from Orchard and they probably passed it every day. And as I mentioned before, this was not a fancy hotel by any means, but on this day the kids took notice.
I didn’t notice it at first, but they were really fucking hyped to be there. I think they thought we were pretty important. I’d been sleeping on a cow-hide/linoleum floor at Jeremy’s place in Chinatown, New York for the few days prior and was just happy to have a bed. As I swiped the key and we entered the room, I realized this was a place these guys weren’t accustomed to.
“Two beds!?” one of them said.
“No”, Jeremy replied laughing, “we were going to share one”. The kid went toward the window and tore open the curtains.
“Baaaaaaaalin!….” he said as if it would be a view overlooking some waterfront city skyline. The window actually didn’t look to outside at all, but rather, a closed shanty lobby diner where with any luck we could hope for a continental breakfast. But wait, “You got a coffee maker too?” he snapped. “Damn, and a Nintendo 64?”.
Before he could embarrass himself any more, we showed him the pay-per-view while we took turns using the washroom (which was also quite balling, it had lights right across the mirror. The whole mirror!), turned ourselves around and were at the premiere venue just in time. As we exited the hotel there was the usual hotel decorative art. This one had some black and white photos of New York (not even their own city of Boston), and the kid had nothing but good things to say about the hotel’s taste in artwork too. The type of person they’re praying for to do a review on TripAdviser.com. You couldn’t have been there without cracking a smile. It was refreshing and fun even just to witness and share in his enthusiasm.
At the premiere he was just like any of us. Looked like us, sounded like us, and probably skated a lot better than us. In a surprisingly young crowd, he was probably above average age. But when that giant chicken took the screen he was vibrating, jumping up and down—it was all he could do to keep his composure. As ‘Beagle’ perfected some kind of grind-to-manual combination and the cheers of young skaters filled the room, I thought about all the time and sweat Jeremy had put into every detail of his 14 minute video over the last year that screened before it and the small amount of skateboarders that will truly appreciate each and every subtlety.