Location, location, location?
It’s funny the way things work out. When I wrote the article below for Free, Chris Jones was slightly concerned that somebody else would do a ‘better’ trick into a Parisian bank that he’d liberated on a drunken hacksaw mission. When I say ‘concerned’ that’s pushing it a bit. He was concerned in the same way that you might be concerned about the person in front of you buying the last really cold beer from the shop. In fact, Chris’ concern such as it was, was in all honesty manipulated by yours truly to create a vehicle to reach out and touch skateboarding’s current zeitgeist.
Then, a month after the article dropped in Free, Louie Lopez’s Thrasher cover came out, which a) rendered Chris’ worries about someone kickflipping into the bank he’d ollied into completely obsolete and b), made the article look like a diss to anyone who read it after seeing Louie kill off the spot that had sparked the piece in the first place. So, in my exalted capacity as the person who humbly attempted to nestle up against skateboarding’s 2022 milieu and question the legitimacy of the rules of old, I categorically deny any suggestion that it’s intended to disparage either Louie or Thrasher. It isn’t.
With that said though, don’t bother going back to that spot.
2022 might well be all about inclusion and letting every skater of every ability level have a fair crack of the whip but Louie has killed that spot off, forever.
If I were Chris, I’d go back and weld the fence into place again now.
To quote Bill Weiss, ‘Don’t come back here, the bank is definitely closed. It’s over with.’
Location, location, location?
Words by Ben Powell
The genesis of what you’re about to read came from a conversation between a professional skateboarder, (as in a person who receives financial remuneration for documenting their performance of skateboard tricks) and a person who takes photographs of street spots and uploads them to a Social Media platform for free.
Any casual reader will most probably be formulating a position on this one before reading any further, based almost entirely on their knee-jerk reaction to one, or both, of the compound nouns used in the first sentence.
As the professional skater in question here was none other than Welsh Nike representative, Chris ‘the bank manager’ Jones, it seems prudent to let him fill in the blank spots on this one before we venture further into this confusing ideological minefield.
‘There’s a bank at this existing spot in Paris, which nobody has skated so far due to a railing that runs across the bottom of it. I had it in my head that if I cut the bottom bar of the railing out, it would be possible to do a trick into the bank and then duck under the modified rail and ride away…’
At this stage, it’s probably worth pointing something out that the more astute consumers of skateboard media amongst you will already be aware of. Namely, that Mr Jones has already produced a number of notable video clips that involve ducking under fences on the ride away, (for the geeks that’s 03:12 in his Vase section and 02:35 in his 365 Days on Planet Earth part). This is worthy of a mention to contextualise his Parisian activities within the wider mindset that clearly drives his approach to producing content as a sponsored skateboarder.
Back to Chris, ‘I tried to cut the rail off that same day under cover of darkness but my saw broke before I’d made any progress. A month later I found myself back in Paris and decided to try again. This time I bought a variety of different hacksaws to ensure I’d get through it and then foolishly waited until after 3am and a stomach full of booze to attempt to liberate the spot. As I was so drunk, all my previous concerns about being caught evaporated and I managed to cut through one part of the bar and then bend the rail so it became possible to ride underneath it. It most definitely wasn’t the clinical spot-modification operation that I’d envisaged but, it got the job done, and I promptly returned to the hotel and fell asleep.
When I returned the next morning with a stinking hangover to attempt the trick that had led to the above, I realised just how sketchy the whole thing was. Hangovers and precision skating aren’t the happiest bedfellows and that, combined with the speed at which I was going to be ducking under the very low and only half-removed bar, made this one terrifying and potentially life-threatening. In fact, it’s definitely one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done.’
So far, so what, right? Well, this is where the dichotomy laid out in the opener comes in. Subsequently, a Parisian skate spot Instagram account posted the object that Chris had modified before the trick he’d filmed had been used, much to his annoyance.
‘It was frustrating as the spot has been there for ages but no one had ever thought of cutting the bar away to make it usable. After putting the work in, it was annoying for the spot to get blown out like that for someone to go skate it and potentially release footage before my clip had even come out, despite me being the one who took the risk to make it skateable and came up with the idea.
I feel like there’s an etiquette that should be held onto in skating: if someone finds a spot, or more so “makes a spot”, then it’s a mark of respect to wait for their footage or photo to come out before rinsing it. Plus, as I’ve never really been a person who’s able to shut down a popular spot with my technical ability, I’ve leaned more towards the spot finding aspect of skate culture. It’s also the thing that I get the most excited about when watching videos myself. To me, finding spots is just as important as doing tricks.’
Following this initial conversation, it transpired that Chris had contacted said Instagram account and asked, in his ever-polite way, whether they’d mind removing the spot so as to protect the value of the inaugural trick filmed there and they had in turn acquiesced with his request. With such a wholesome outcome, it feels almost churlish to upend the butcher’s bucket and go raking through the entrails looking for further meanings but, if that doesn’t happen, then you’re not going to be reading much more.
If you reacted to the very first sentence of this text then chances are that you felt some affinity towards the concept of ‘professional skateboarder’ or you had a reaction to the mention of ‘Social Media’ and its creeping monopoly on every single subculture on the planet. There’s nothing surprising about that, particularly not in skate culture where the de facto response to any mention of Social Media is to pretend like it represents the dissolution of cultural integrity and destruction of all things good, before immediately posting your outrage on Instagram. Equally, as a skateboarder, you’d be forgiven for taking an instinctively sympathetic position towards Chris’ annoyance at his trick being potentially ‘blown out’ because someone else decided to reveal the location of the spot.
Upon further consideration however, this situation lays bare a tension that sits at the very heart of skateboarding-as-a-thing, and throws up as many questions as it does answers. Yes, in this instance, a perfect harmony between the professional and the hobbyist was achieved, leaving nobody slighted and the value of Chris Jones’ cultural currency unsullied by the intrepid endeavours of Instagram inspired glory hunters. But, in a wider sense, is it possible to determine who, if anyone, was in the right here?
Can post-Olympics, post-Instagram, post-Phelps skateboarding still maintain the purist allegiance to the etiquette and rules of old?
Or to put it another way, in a skate universe that now happily champions inclusivity over exclusivity, is the notion of cultural gatekeeping still relevant? And, if it’s not, is it still cool to want to keep skate spots secret?
This is where the conversation with Chris led, with the lid of Pandora’s box removed and emphatically flung from the highest building in the vicinity.
As such, it seemed prudent to take this question and farm it out to as many different skateboarders, representing as many different experiences as possible; from the unpaid compilers of spot locations, through to the ranks of The Industry and those contractually-obliged to create content to please sponsors and fans alike either through doing tricks, or by documenting them.
The responses were quite surprising, but you can discover that yourselves…
Where better to start than with 2021’s SOTY? In response to a question about how the ‘locals only’ ethos that skating inherited from surfing interacts with the expectations of a pro skater, Mark (Suciu) makes an important point:
‘You have to respect local scenes and their spots. That can sound territorial, but spots aren’t just objects, they’re also relationships. Relationships between skaters and security guards – imagine a spot where security has reached a deal with skaters, allowing them to skate as long as it’s after business hours – or in the case of spots that have been fixed up or DIYs, it’s a relationship between the builder and what they’ve built. It’s best to talk to people who know about these relationships, (particularly if you’re there as a visitor), and to figure out how you can fit in with respect. If you’re respectful, people will get on your side, and if you end up getting a good trick at a spot they can share in the stoke.’
With Suciu bridging the gap between the contemporary skate universe and that of the much celebrated but equally much misunderstood ‘90s street scene, it’s interesting to place his thoughts against those people deeply involved in early 1990s skateboarding. Historically, it was an interesting period, with a movement away from filming exclusively at famous spots like Embarcadero, Lockwood or Venice Beach that had dominated skate videos in the early ‘90s, and towards a more spot-searching approach that saw influential pros scouring cities for new, previously unskated architecture from the mid ‘90s onwards.
As veteran East Coast filmmaker and industry head Josh Stewart explains:
‘It’s probably a very outdated mode of thought these days but I can still see the rationale for not sharing spots with other people. I can think of many spots that were so special, that it would’ve been more powerful and had more staying power in a cultural sense if the original skaters who found and christened those spots had been the only people to film/shoot there. It’s virtually impossible for that to occur these days, but I think if a skater finds a spot through their own diligence and creativity, then it’s justifiable for them to keep it a secret.
Ricky Oyola was very instrumental in instilling this mentality into a lot of East Coast skaters in the ‘90s. Just a reverence for the art of finding skate spots and the respect to each skater for the work or imagination they put into their own spots. It’s certainly tough nowadays though with how much content everyone has to put out constantly. It makes it far more challenging to respect those rules when skaters are having to film sometimes 2-3 parts in a year. But I really respect it when it’s obvious that someone has put in the work to find their own spots in a video part.’
Whilst nearly everyone contacted in the process of putting this piece together agreed on the absolute centrality of seeking out new spots for the culture, not everyone agreed with Stewart’s self-confessed traditionalist outlook.
To Antihero’s Chris Pfanner, the notion of deliberately keeping spots secret is risible: ‘it’s completely unnecessary. Why hide the spot from others? Are you scared that someone else is gonna one-up you? If that’s how seriously you see skateboarding, then you should probably start playing soccer and give that board to someone that’s happy with it.’
The concern of being one-upped is subtly different from Stewart’s point and relates more to the notion of professionalised skateboarding being a quest to do better or more difficult tricks (or NBDs) at spots which have become crucibles for progression. But then again, in the grand scheme of things, on the kind of spots where ABD/NBD battles were most prevalent, how much progression is there between 50-50ing a massive rail and smithing it? Obviously one trick is harder than the other but aesthetically or philosophically speaking, is there much difference? We’re venturing onto issues related to spot specificity and the reality that certain skaters gravitate towards very particular types of spots here, so it seems appropriate to tag in Norway’s Kevin Baekkel.
Kevin’s approach to spots tends towards the suicidal, as anyone who saw his recent Free and Thrasher interviews or watched his Creature Gangreen section will be fully aware of. This guy is absolutely not out searching for niche backstreet cellar doors; with Baekkel the goal is to find the longest, the biggest and the most death defying and as a result, his attitude towards spot sharing reflects this.
‘The spots I’m looking for need a different technique,’ he explains. ‘I’ll spend time driving through areas with steep hills as they’re more likely to throw up big rails. The other thing I do is hit up snowboarders, BMXers and rollerbladers on the hunt for rails that I’ve seen on their Instagrams or in their videos. Usually they’re always down to share because it’s not as if I’m going to blow their spots out because nobody else will want to skate them anyway. For me, I’m always down to share spots I find with anyone who asks, because so far everyone has been down to share with me. It works best this way.’
Baekkel’s not the only person whose specific approach to skateboarding involves seeking out unseen spots or objects that don’t fit into a regular paradigm. Jim Craven has made a career producing skate films that explore terrain completely removed from the vast majority of things touched on so far. Craven’s aesthetic is reliant on spot searching but not as we generally conceive of it in so far as you’re not going to stumble across drainage ditches, spillways, full pipes and seafront flood defences by skating an extra few miles through the city or looking around the back of supermarkets. Despite this, his position on the cultural significance of finding spots is just as fervent:
‘Spot finding is everything. I honestly don’t know if I’d still be skating today if it wasn’t for the amount of satisfaction I get from finding, and then skating/shooting/filming at a spot that is new to me and others. It’s also what I’m most inspired by when I watch videos too. Obviously, there will always be space in skateboarding for endless amounts of Kalis at Love, Worrest at Pulaski or Hjalte at Jarmers, but if that was what everyone was doing all of the time, I definitely would have gotten into mountain biking or kiteboarding or some other shit by now, because that sense of adventure is really important.’
The flipside to that ‘sense of adventure’ so crucial to Craven is a degree of unwillingness to give up hard-earned spot locations but not for the reasons you might expect.
‘I think the most important thing about a “spot” is the first time you see it in a photo or a video. That first exposure kind of holds within it all of this new information for your brain to take in around the skating, and you don’t know what’s coming next. I think that subconsciously, that’s much more exciting to see than a line at a spot you’ve seen hundreds of times. I think that new and interesting spots are definitely a huge part of holding people’s interest in a skate video. So for that reason, my main criteria for withholding locations is just about whether or not my clips at a spot are in the public domain or not. I’ll jealously guard a spot with my life until the day an edit comes out, then I don’t really care.
With that said though, there’s an overspill spot in Northumberland that I’ve been asked about a few times, but the only way down into it is probably the most dangerous of anything I’ve ever been to. It’s a shimmy across a curved bank with a 3-storey drop underneath, to Spiderman leap onto the outside of a cage surrounding some ladders. Watching those guys do it when we were filming was so nerve racking, so the idea of giving that location to a crew, and then something terrible happening there isn’t really worth thinking about. So I’m keeping that one to myself!’
Craven’s perspective feeds into something common across all of the professional documentarians contacted during the process of putting this together. Barcelona-based photographer and heavy Free contributor Gerard Riera echoes much of the reoccurring focus on the aesthetic value of newly discovered spots and the necessity to be selective about which people to shoot with at these newly mined gems.
‘I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to thinking carefully about who I take to new spots, particularly as we’re talking about Barcelona where “new spots” get devoured quickly. At the same time I definitely feel some controversial feelings when I do this – am I doing the proper thing? Who knows?
A recent example of this came when Gustav Tønnesen shot a picture on a previously unskated Barcelona rail, which in itself is hard to believe right?
I know Gus is filming for a new Sour video so if after that sesh I start taking people to that rail, what’s gonna happen?
First, the spot will be burned soon and second, probably some other different footy will drop before Gustav’s (who discovered it and showed it to me).
Because of this, I have to keep this spot safe until his footy/photo sees the light: from a pro photographer angle, I’m just trying to respect Gus’ work in that case and do the correct thing from my point of view.
Other times, you find a new spot randomly in a new area. Then some of your homies invite other homies: that’s a classic situation. You can’t kill the vibe, and say: “yooo guys, please don’t film this… don’t shoot this… don’t post this… as much as you might want to”, because who wants to become the skate police, right? It’s not always under your control.
I do think skating fresh spots makes the scene bigger and better and probably opens some minds too in a different way, for sure. On the other hand, part of my job is still to save some spots until they are printed in the magazines in future issues. There are a lot of things going on in that one concept and when people’s livings are at stake, it makes it even more difficult to know what the right decision is.’
This tension between being the enablers of progressive, meaningful, pro-level skateboarding, whilst simultaneously being expected to gate-keep spot access is perhaps most keenly felt by people like Gerard whose jobs rely on skateboarding’s cultural currency, namely documentation of tricks.
Anthony Claravall’s take on this one is particularly interesting given his career trajectory from Californian-based pro filmer to Asia-based freelance tour guide and exposure channel for previously unacknowledged indigenous talent.
For Anthony, the whole concept of ‘over-skating’ spots reeks of sanctimony and pales into insignificance next to more important issues like conduct and showing respect.
‘People love to be hypocrites. Spots are only skated “too much” when it’s someone else. The main responsibility I feel is just to be cool to people at the spots. Don’t threaten or intimidate the people who live there, work there, the security, whomever. Try to go at the right time, be conscious of kids playing, respectful of pedestrians, especially the elderly. Stay cool if you are confronted by residents, clean up your garbage, get your clip, and dip.’
As someone who has acted as a guide to visiting pros in countries all over the world, Claravall is fully aware of the potential pitfalls of being ‘that guy who brought the Yanks over’ but is philosophical about the positive cultural impact that such an endeavour can have on local scenes whether it be in China or the Philippines.
‘To be honest, filming skateboarding at a professional level is how spots are utilised to their fullest potential. Usually locals have a spot that is not normally skated, a lot of times they want a pro skater to come and do the tricks that they dreamed of when they discovered it. Some product, an introduction to a pro, a signed shirt, anything goes a long way when it comes to showing gratitude. Sometimes it’s inviting them to the session so they can see how things go down.
I’ve met a lot of skaters over the years that have told me they were one of the young locals when I came through filming at their local spot years ago. If you were cool they might mention it and if you were an asshole they will definitely tell you!’
There’s another side to Claravall’s perspective on the ‘over-use’ of spots that goes beyond the potential for spaces to get shut down because of drawing too much attention to them and again, it speaks of a tension at the heart of skateboarding itself, specifically professionalised skating.
As London local Helena Long puts it:
‘When you get easy to find and well-known spots it kind of invites people to have a go where others have trod, to gauge their own skating against the list of ABDs. Those kinds of obvious spots naturally develop folklores around them, which then puts those objects into the mainstream of skate tourism. I guess in that sense over-use confers skate cultural value onto these places, but then being rinsed too much, it makes them hard spots to document anything new and exciting at. I feel you’ve got to bring something insane, an out of this world style or a completely new approach to them to make it interesting footage for a video.
In regards to documentation, it also circles back to whether it’ll be for an Instagram clip or if it’ll be in a real video. It’s kind of a shame when someone does something amazing at a spot for an Instagram clip only and someone may be sitting on something just as good but for a vid yet to be released. It’s a shame to throw away footage of these iconic spots in my opinion. But then again I don’t think this can really distort how good the clip is or how hyped someone is to see it so immediately.’
Others, like Norway’s Magnus Bordewick don’t feel any particular allegiance to either type of spot:
‘I don’t have a preference on this one, maybe I just haven’t thought about it too much. Sometimes it’s nice to skate a well-known spot and sometimes it’s nice to skate something newly discovered. Both have their place in skate media. On a personal level, I do like fixing up and looking for spots, but I think it looks good with a bit of both in a part. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with untouched spots though.’
On the topic of shooting at well-known and established spots, both Clément Le Gall and Mike Manzoori share similar perspectives about the double-edged sword of foregoing newly uncovered architecture in favour of the hotspots.
‘Absolutely it is sometimes boring to see the same spots in the mags but, as a photographer, if someone asks you to shoot something new on a legendary spot, you will never say no…’ Clément laughs. ‘It can be a challenge to find a new way to shoot on a famous spot and not make it look boring, but sometimes you just need to be focused on the trick and forget your artsy photo.’
This concept chimes with the thoughts of UK filmer Sirus F Gahan who, despite falling heavily on the side of conceptualising things whereby, ‘The spot is the trick – finding it and thinking up a way to skate it is the trick itself’, still recognises the worth of repeated use of certain famous spots.
‘There are spots where their cultural value increases the more they are skated. Something like London Bridge has obviously been skated for decades, but a good clip on it is never going to feel played out, (see Matlok in the Passport video or Felipe in the Carhartt vid). With spots like that there’s an intrinsic value in actually physically managing to procure a clip. Having recently spent many freezing cold mornings there myself, entering into actual screaming matches with civilians, I have the utmost respect to anyone that can even handle the sheer stress of attempting to skate it, let alone being athletically capable enough to chuck yourself down the stairs.’
Manzoori echoes the sentiment: ‘With these iconic spots, aside from respecting the ABDs, you can dispense with some of the politics regarding who holds some sense of ownership of the place. The subtext of the repetition varies depending on the vibe of the spot. Some become more and more culturally significant and even turn into pillars of the skate community like Southbank and others are less interesting if constantly skated. Often they will have waves of interest over the years as skating evolves and new generations create new potential for old spots and they can have multiple revivals.’
That mention of the notion of discovery conferring some assumption of ownership draws us back to Chris Jones’ situation and the impetus for this article. Are we to accept that idea or is this just another example of an outdated mode of thought as Josh Stewart put it?
Tom Knox, someone known for filming in very geographically specific and unique (at least aesthetically speaking) spaces, expresses a surprising lack of this mindset when talking about his own output.
‘I don’t feel ownership over the spots I skate, although I definitely do feel lucky to get to skate new stuff that hasn’t been rinsed. Jake (Harris) and I put in some work but it’s not like we’re going on huge missions to find stuff. If I think about all the estates we’ve skated, it’s mostly down to convenience, living close to them and just checking them out en route heading somewhere else then sometimes finding a gem and lots of the time not finding anything.’
When it comes to sharing what a lot of people might perceive to be ‘his spots’, Knox is equally blasé. ‘Estates look great on camera but there are lots of mega nause ups that you don’t see in footage: people stressing at you because of the noise, the shit ground, etc., so it’s not as if these places are perfect in any sense.
People rarely ask me for the locations, so I don’t really have much of an opinion as to whether I have any criteria for sharing them. I guess it depends who’s asking. I haven’t even got the locations saved for a lot of them, most of the ones in south I just follow Jake. Saying this, I was just in LA and it’s rough out there, I think if I lived there I would have to be a lot more territorial about my spots to avoid them getting destroyed before your footage even comes out. I like not having to think like that though.’
Clearly, geographic location has a huge part to play in this discussion, something made clear by one of the unpaid hobbyists running one of the skate spot Instagram accounts that this article might have unwittingly cast as the villain.
In huge cities, are you really causing issues by pointing people towards certain pieces of architecture? One of the unnamed heads behind a large UK-based spot account (@LDNskatespot) has this to say:
‘London is a vast metropolitan area, filled with obscure things to skate. I used to often discover spots whilst cycling around and thought that I’d share them with whoever is interested in using them. I’ve had people from around the world message me saying that my account had inspired them to visit, with scooter and BMX riders also showing an interest.’
Likewise, an account from another major European city with a huge follower base (@paris.secret.spot) views their endeavour more through the lens of encouraging skateboard tourism rather than cultural vandalism.
‘I created it just for fun and to share the secret spots I was riding without any particular ambition. It became big very quickly, which was totally unexpected. The goal now is to help skaters from here to find the hundreds spots of Paris and to help with sessions and filming to hype up Paris as a skate destination, as much as to provide happiness to people from all over the world that are here just to skate and have fun.’
Not quite the scurrilous tabloid exposés that you might have thought, right?
Equally, both people actively search for and find spots themselves, rather than relying on user submissions, which sets their activities on a higher level of cultural legitimacy, surely?
One of the heads behind the London account said, ‘I would say that 90% are spots that I have solely discovered myself. Some followers send in pictures of their local spots and some send over spots they’ve found by trawling Google Street View but I’ve found the vast majority myself.’ With his French counterpart saying roughly the same thing: ‘of the 300 Paris spots I’ve posted to date, I personally found and photographed 80% of them.’
When quizzed as to whether there had been any negative responses to this free-of-charge spot location service both reply in the negative, although our French connection does have some cautionary advice.
‘The only “negative” comments I’ve had have been on spots in the hood where people have commented saying that it’s too dangerous to skate there due to criminality or drug issues in that district. Twice I’ve had skaters message the account saying how they’ve had cameras robbed whilst they were filming at particular spots I have posted. Neither was to complain to me though, and in both cases, the filmers were insured so it worked out. The “negative comments” were more informative for other followers. It is true that in Paris we have some ghetto places that house crazy spots where skaters are not welcomed but whenever I post about these kinds of areas I give extra advice: be careful, go in a group, go early in the morning. Honestly though, the city is not how the media or the extreme right portray it, you can skate nearly everywhere if you are careful and show respect. I give the spot and the information then you need to decide if it’s worth the risk.’
The repeated refrain of showing respect for both the spots themselves and the communities around them, along with also consciously nodding towards skateboarding’s embedded customs and traditions is central to Bobby Puleo’s take on this topic. Puleo is well known as a vocal advocate of skateboarding history and culture and a man unafraid to ruffle feathers by sifting through minutiae; as such, his take on this was both intriguing and singular.
‘The part of skateboarding that I always found most interesting was the concept of finding the unique object. That is something of a skill because you need the wherewithal or the mindset or whatever you want to call it in order to be able to locate or identify that object, which might be sitting in front of everyone’s face. That unique object needs someone to establish that it is skateable and that something is possible on it. Then, because skateboarding operates within an industry where people are building careers on creating content by “doing tricks”, you necessarily come up against the reality that said unique object quickly loses its singularity once it’s identified as good for skating. It used to be that once a trick has been done on a certain spot, you couldn’t then do the same trick on the same spot. That was a rule enshrined in the culture. I think it was Mike Carroll who established that pretty early on, (maybe in a Skateboarder article) that redoing tricks at spots, or the “ABD” was one of the things that you didn’t do if you cared about the culture of skateboarding. Effectively what becomes a thing in the concept of you finding the spot is the risk that by you opening up the door and showing that it’s skateable, you essentially open up the possibility of somebody else going there and filming/shooting the same thing.’
Puleo recognises the economic substructure upon which this paradoxical situation sits however and acknowledges that, to your average skateboarder at least, much of this comes across as self-regarding dogmatism.
‘As the person who’s making money off of the act of skateboarding then it’s me whose livelihood and cultural value is to some extent put in jeopardy by the possibility of this object being found and/or skated by other people. That’s the economics of the situation. Does it matter more if the person who skates it after me is another “professional” rather than a regular skateboarder? Quite possibly.
To your average person who is skating for the joy of doing it, what we’re talking about isn’t really going to be a concern. To that person, they’re just skating, there’s no transaction or expectation to create content to fulfil a job role.
When you become a pro skater and your lifestyle depends on that skill then this kind of stuff will become more important to you and it can then become inflated so as to seem ridiculous to anyone not looking at it from that professionalised perspective. The whole notion of claiming spot ownership to your average person outside of “the industry” seems ridiculous. I’ve been called all kinds of stuff by people who’ve reacted to things I’ve said about this very issue – from “bitter” to “delusional” – and from the perspective of someone not trying to make a living through skating that makes absolute sense.
Unless you monetise your skateboarding, you’re unlikely to be too upset about other people skating “your spot” or knowing its location.
With that said though, even without the economic aspect, it’s still perfectly reasonable for the person who first found or made a spot skateable to want to bask in the glory of getting the first trick there. I don’t think that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that at all – it’s a recognised aspect of skate culture.’
Puleo’s musings bring us full circle and back to the dichotomy that first sparked this article. Does it get us any closer to a definitive answer as to who was in the right with the initial Chris Jones/Parisian skate spot Insta account situation? Clearly not, as the whole issue is far too nuanced to really designate any of the players involved as either the hero or the villain. Perhaps it’s reasonable to assert however that the intersection between professionalised skateboarding and the experience of normal, hobbyist skateboarding that is the reality for 99% of all skaters on the planet creates some interesting and ultimately enriching ripples across the surface of our culture.
Or to put it another way: Who’s in charge? Nobody’s in charge: just don’t be a dickhead.