Thursday, January 19, 2017

Still Searching For That Clinical 'Banger' For The Ending

In no way can I blame my parents for not forcing me to learn to play a musical instrument as a child. However, there are many times where I wish I did know how to play an instrument or at least read music. Many of my friends do indeed pursue music as a passion and even a career. I've often found myself wondering, in awe, how the fingers of a piano player or a guitar strummer can so effortlessly find their place with such precision movement. The closest thing I have experienced involves skateboarding; repetitive movements -- muscle memory that becomes subconscious in that a conscious decision to execute a larger "trick," or in the case of music, a "tune" or "song," is comprised of a symphony of learned behavior. It becomes automatic.

Skateboarding has also been responsible for much of the music I've loved. I grew up in an era which had 411 Video Magazine's monthly VHS offering was eagerly consumed. Each video started with this iconic tune:


The alarm on my phone plays this song. Something subtle in the meaning of the song, buried deep inside my mind, irrevocably lodged in there when I was a teenager gets me amped up -- the perfect alarm song. 

Of course, the songs during video parts are even more influential for me than the 411 theme. One of the first skate videos I remember watching was The New Deal's "Children of the Sun." Besides the 411 videos, it was the first video which I watched, and rewatched hundreds of times over. Dave Duren's part had a song from the Smashing Pumpkin's album "Gish" from 1991. Of note, this is before "Siamese Dream" took the alternative music scene by storm in the mid-nineties. 


The very nature of skateboarding, in sharp contrast to institutional team sports, has a propensity for it's participants to pursue artistic endeavors. Painting, music, graffiti, writing -- some of my favorites have roots in skateboarding. Shooting a basketball is an individual endeavor, but winning a basketball game is a group effort. Skateboarding has no team, it has no winners or losers! One may point to the many skateboarding competitions in contrarian efforts -- well, sure, a "winner" is crowned but these are judged on a subjective style interpretation. I would even argue that the staunchest competition skaters only do it for the money. And in this lies the most beautiful aspect of skateboarding -- it is an artistic expression of the skater. This is not expressly unique -- gymnasts, skiers, divers, and many others conduct themselves, at the base maneuver level, the same way. However, I propose that the culture and the manner in which skateboarding has evolved -- using urban architecture and utilitarian infrastructure in novel ways, sets it apart. The rallying cry for the past forty years of, "Skateboarding is not a crime" arose from the pushback (and in many cases, understandably so) of using the urban landscape in a manner that is a delight to my eyes. Inspiration is fertilized by tribulation. 

Bad Religion, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Buffalo Tom, Motorhead, Souls of Mischief, Nitzer Ebb, Sebadoh, EPMD, Bad Brains, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Pennywise, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Stereolab, Fugazi, Superchunk, Seaweed, Tortoise, Slayer and my love of so many more are all rooted in skateboard videos. 

I used to always ponder what song I would want for my own video part. When I think about it now, I imagine myself with a highlight reel of clinical moments -- diagnosing that rare condition, calming the anxiety ridden patient and not mistaking the PE for pneumonia. And if I had to now have a song, I would still want to use that age-old trick where I get to choose two songs (think "Yeah Right" by Girl, who had most of their riders get a "B-side" with a different song) and they would be:



and 


The goal is to have more than one video part, of course. Too much good music out there. 



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