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.