The Maloof Series: The Exposure or Invasion of Skate Culture

 

(Queens, New York) As we continue our Maloof Series, a constant theme continues to arise throughout each interview we do, and that theme is the current state of skate culture. With brands such as Supreme, Thrasher (a magazine, but still), and Huf (because if you’ve smoked weed ever, it’s mandatory to buy their socks) blowing up in popular culture, there is an argument whether the new found exposure is either helping or hurting the longevity of skate culture. In the different interviews conducted, we saw both sides of the spectrum – with one side believing that the exposure is beneficial and the other side believing that the exposure is destructive. After talking to Alan and Jermaine, we tapped into both sides of the spectrum on the current issue of skate culture.

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“I saw some kid break his arm on the nine-rail once”

Jermaine, whose Instagram handle is @itsworldfamous, has been skating in whole for the last nine years. After noticing our camera, he asked us to catch a picture of him board sliding down a nine-rail (seen above) and we couldn’t say no. Without even knowing it, Jermaine has had a connection to Triboro for a few years. It turns out Jermaine and us here at Triboro went to a few of the same parties in our high school years. This crazy coincidence led us to talking about a bunch of different things, one being the current state of skate culture. Skating Maloof for the last six years, he has been able to see the rapid growth of popularity of the culture first hand.

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Although many others feel that the exposure of the scene has “killed” the culture, Jermaine feels that it provides just that: exposure. In his opinion, the exposure is creating an identity and giving more publicity to skateboarding. Rather than breaking down the culture, the “rooting” of the scene has become a doorway for young skaters to gain notoriety with brands that may not have been as big prior to rise of popular skate wear. Not only does it enhance the chances of getting recognized, it also brings more money into the business. Jermaine feels that this popularity will bolster the business element of skateboarding. With more exposure comes more money, and with more money comes skaters getting paid an amount they deserve for busting their ass. Although Jermaine was making valid points, the other side of the spectrum tends to disagree.

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“They took it all!!”

On the other side of the opinionated spectrum is Alan, a kid from Forrest Hills, Queens that has been skating Maloof since it has opened. Riding on a board reading “RIP Dad”, Alan has seen it all, from Chris Cole gracing the grounds of Maloof to seeing kids break bones literately everywhere. With a unique skating style, I felt intrigued to speak with Alan and get his opinion on the issue at hand. “It’s killing our culture,”
Alan said, “I feel like we don’t have anything anymore.” Although he understands that it’s necessary for brands to seek exposure simply for survival purposes, he feels that it has left skaters with nothing.

With many different people having many different opinions, the key element of the argument is the furthering of the culture. Is it better to have an attitude of isolation or an attitude of inclusion? Will maintaining a tight nit community with few outsiders further the culture rather than promoting skate wear to everyone and anyone? Also, is this exposure a form of selling out? Really only time will tell. No matter what way you look at it, skateboarding is a business. Brands need to survive and a key survival tactic is the expansion of the brand. On the other hand, we have seen many other cultures “mined” before in the past. In the early 90’s when Grunge music became popular, their culture was completely infiltrated. Companies like Calvin Klein, Versace and Marc Ecko put out grunge-style fashion lines and Nirvana was playing every second on MTV. As a result, the grunge culture virtually died. Is this what will happen with skate culture? We will see.

 

 

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The Maloof Series: A Kid From Washington

 

(Queens, New York)Whether you are from New York or not, Flushing Meadow Park is a key figure in the culture of New York City and is recognizable for many reasons. From Queens rapper  Action Bronson’s notorious bar from It’s Me: “In Flushing Meadow Park drinking Hennessy with my mom,” to the famous World’s Fair Globe, it is obvious that the park is a New York City landmark. Located just 5 measly minutes from Citi Field, Flushing Meadow park is the home of a New York skater’s dream: Flushing Skate Plaza a.k.a Maloof.

Maloof  is a skaters heaven; With a nine stair accompanied by banks and different rails, a skater can spend a whole day at the park. The park was built in 2010 by the Maloof Brothers, famous for owning the Sacramento Kings, and was donated to the city after the inaugural Maloof Money Cup. Ever since then, kids from all over have come to skate in the professionally recognized park.

One of the many skaters to check out Maloof is Josh (@Classiclarry), a twenty-four year old mustached man from Washington (Yes, the state.). Watching him cleanly landing tricks and skating with such “old school” aggression made it a necessity to talk to him about skating, the culture and some places to grub after a session.

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Moving all the way from the Pacific Northwest to Queens, Josh has been skating for an insane 15 years but has only been skating Maloof for three years. As interesting as his story was, his style was just as interesting. Watching him reminded me of watching old videos of Jay Adams skate when I was a youngin’. This aggressive skating style ran parallel to his taste in music. Punk rock has the same attitude that Josh skates with, and just happens to be the same music he listens to while skating. Bands like The Vandals, Black Flag and The Thermals fuels Josh during his sessions. With this punk rock attitude, it intriuged me to see how he felt about the current state of skate culture and the newly found exposure  many skate brands have found due to the rise of “street wear” fashion.

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As I suspected, he was not too happy with all of the new found exposure.
“I fucking hated it when Nike SB came out,”Josh said. The invasion by big brands like Nike and Adidas  aggrivates him because it takes away from the diversity and creativity that is found in the skate community. Without a sense of invidiuality, there would be no such thing as “culture” in the skate community. According to Josh, these big [sneaker] companies are are “ruining” the situation for other skaters and little skate companies because they have way too much money to spend, therefore giving them immense control. Simply put Josh said, “I fucking hate it,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Now to the important stuff; After we talked skating, music and culture, I needed to know the best food spot for Josh to hit up after he skates. Now Flushing, Queens is literately the mosty diverse place in all of the United States, with people from Asia, South America and Europe making up the extremly unique population. With all of these diverse options, Josh told me his go to place is a diner (Pop’s Diner on Kissena Blvd.) and I couldn’t have been happier because I have a special place in my heart for diner food. After talking about different diners and empanada spots in the area, my interview with Josh came to an end. It is safe to say that Josh, @Classiclarry on Instagram, was one of the most intersting people I have talked to.

 

Written by Robert Bowe

Photography by James Palmer