My Favorite Anything Ever

Ok, I just had to write a post on my all-time favorite book. I often say that Battlestar Galactica is my favorite anything ever, but it’s hard to top books. And Jitterbug Perfume is one of the reasons why. It’s my Post Modern Bible. I guess that would make Jitterbug Perfume my favorite anything ever. Sorry Battlestar Galactica. Here’s what I find so fascinating about it:

You’ve got two characters condemned to death by their cultures.

Alobar: a king who finds a white hair on his head. In his culture, a king must be young and virile. So when the king shows the first sign of age, he is excecuted so that a younger, more capable king may rule the land.

Kudra: Her husband is dead. In her cutlure a man’s possessions must be burned at his death. Since a wife is considered a posession, Kudra is set to be burned soon after her husband’s death.

So here are these two doomed characters, consumed by a pressing fear of death. But although everything they know tells them they are going to die, that they are supposed to die, they decide that they don’t want to. So they don’t. They run off and join some monks, learn the power of meditation, and come up with several routines such as fasting, taking hot baths, etc., which they perform regularaly. But the point is: death was always a choice. By deciding not to die, they have unlocked the secret of the Universe.

Meanwhile, Pan, yes the god,  is dying as people stop believeing in him (This was way before American Gods). So there’s this weird dynamic of people believing anything is possible, and yet not believing in god, or at least not Pagan gods such as Pan.

What I find fascinating about this novel is this idea that, if you truly believe something and decide that it’s true, it is true. You can conquer insurmountable odds. Even though billions and billions of people have been dying for millenia, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Human imagination and belief is strong enough to sustain the gods for millenia, but the moment doubt and cynicism start creeping into our minds, even the gods begin to crumble.

Kickflip to Fingerboardslide

It all started a couple of years ago when I got an Xbox 360. Until that point I was trying to be mature, spend all of my freetime reading and doing responsible things like keeping tabs on bank accounts and bills. The Xbox brought me back to my childhood wonder of tiny worlds that I could interact with. But it wasn’t until I got the game Skate that I was really transported back in time. I used to play the Tony Hawk games on my PS2 when I wasn’t skating, but this brought my skating days rushing back to me in a way old memories and even other skating games never had. I think a lot of it had to do with the control scheme. You have to flick the control sticks to do tricks and balance them at an angle to manual. These movements require finesse and precision tobe  pulled off correctly and brought back the feeling I hadn’t felt in years, catching a skateboard with my Osiris, DC, Circa, or whatever kind of shoes that I was wearing at the time, after a perfect kickflip. Or rolling away from a clean boardslide.

Alexis Milant is a perfect example of someone who is pushing his capabilities to the wildest edge of edges. He has a whole series of these videos on youtube, videos in which he combines his cinematography skills with the simple, yet impressive tricks he can do with a fingerboard. It’s people like this who are able to transform an activity no one would ordinarily look at twice into something greater than the activity itself.

I’ve since played through Skate 2 and 3, played them to death. That’s why I still haven’t read Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow. The games are still ridiculously fun and bring back those feelings to an extent, but not like the first time I played Skate. It made me miss actually skating on a real board, and I thought about getting back into skating, but then I realized I have nowhere to skate except skateparks full of unruly youth and sidewalks full of dogs, children and cops.

So the rush of the memories was lost for a while, until I found an old tech deck. It was a Jamie Thomas Zero deck (He was my favorite skater back in the day). I rolled around on the coffee table with it, popped a few finger ollies, and the feeling was back. I’ve since been trying to learn to kickflip with a fingerboard. I can land them once in a while, but it’s like learning to skate all over again, on a smaller scale, with less pain and unruly youths.

Overall, I think what fascinates me about fingerboarding and skateboarding is more than just the satisfaction of landing a difficult trick or the reminscing, it’s the way that it makes me think creatively about the world around me. Every time I walk down the sidewalk, I look at stairs, rails, benches and planters and see things to kickflip, grind, slide, and gap. If the stairs don’t have enough pavement to roll away from a trick, or there isn’t enough room to gain speed for a grind, I look elsewhere for potential lines. Fingerboarding is the same. It turns a coffe table into a skatepark, books into funboxes for ollieing onto and manualing.

I’ve been watching videos on youtube, and apparently fingerboarding is a big deal these days, especially in Germany for some reason. They actually make real replicas of tiny skateboods called Berlinwoods. These things are so nice, with real metal trucks, wooden decks, bushings, bearings that roll, the works. There are world championships and real dedicated fingerboard companies like flatface and blackriver ramps just to name a couple of the big ones. I’ve just scratched the surface, but I’m still chasing that feeling of rolling away from a trick I never thought I’d land.