Two months ago, for New York City’s Go Skateboarding Day, I ran into Alex Olson. He was at the LES Coleman Park walking around amidst the chaos that is hundreds of teenage skate rats squirming and skating around for free shirts, boards and all kinds of other industry-related freebies and crap. Alex didn’t seem overwhelmed, in fact, he seemed to be the exact opposite, underwhelmed. He and a little grom that he was rolling with–possibly family–made it only a couple footsteps past the bottom of the skatepark’s entrance stairs before they decided to about-face and dip from the crowded scene. No, they didn’t look frustrated, just uninterested in doing anything there, at least. I managed to sneak up on the pair as they made their way back out to the sidewalk and proceeded to yell out what they’d probably head from about 20 kids at the park already, “Hey Alex!” I then proceeded to cornily hand him and his little homie copies of the latest Mass Appeal issue at the time. “Can a grab a picture of you for Mass Appeal Magazine?” I asked. He didn’t say yes. He also didn’t say no and proceeded to pose for a pic. Nice guy. I told them that the mags were complimentary, but got rejected on a count of who the f*ck wants to carry a hefty magazine with them while they’re skating around the city? Silly me. Aside from the slight burn I felt for getting rejected on magazine peace offering, I would say that the whole exchange and picture opportunity was swell. Alex was cool. He wasn’t the mean, bitter, or unimpressed dude that I’ve heard folks make him out to be. The guy just seemed like a regular dude that was doing what anyone who didn’t have to be at the skatepark that day working for a company or fiending for freebies would do, he sought after less congested territory. And hell, according to a new Jenkem interview and his recent departure from 3D Skateboards (after also leaving Girl Skateboards), it appears that Mr. Olson is seeking a lot of that lately.
Shoutout to the homie Matt Lubansky for putting me on to the interview, because had I not read it, I wouldn’t know just how over the standard-issue skateboard industry and current scene Alex Olson actually is. I don’t blame him. The dude’s been on a board since before he was eight years old and his dad was a ’70s pro rider that continues to ride bowls to this day. Not saying that having been around it for so long and coming from a legacy of skateboarding makes you any more prone to disliking things, I’m only framing the history. What Alex is tired of is the complacency and cookie-cutter homogeny of today’s skateboard scene. From the ubiquitous weed leaf socks, to the demanding regimen for repetitive tricks that comes along with shooting a standard skateboard video. Alex is tired of all that sh*t. Instead — from what I gathered in the interview at least — it seems like the fellow is more interested in a company that operates more like an independent white label vinyl presser, more openly gay skaters, and a return to more of the substance and spontaneity associated with the ’80s and ’90s golden era of things. It’s almost like Alex Olson is Martin Luther (the 1517 one) posting his Ninety-Five Theses on the front door of the greedy and hypocritical Catholic Church of the time. Sort of. Kind of. Unless he’s just trolling everyone. If you didn’t read this or the Jenkem interview, I guess you wouldn’t even know about young Olson’s ideas anyway, but yo, the dude seems pretty over it — and again — I don’t blame him.
I’ll blame YouTube. I’ll blame Hypebeast. I’ll blame social media. I’ll blame The Internet. I’ll blame “smart” phones. I’ll blame technology. I’ll even blame blogging skate nerds like me and all the corny luxuries, immediacies and “advances” that everyone, including the average skateboarding consumer, has at his or her disposal 24/7 to repress their mind, body and soul from rising up, getting out and doing anything at their own frequency that isn’t copying or regurgitating the immediate clone wars. The situation is pretty whacked and if it takes things like Alex Olson’s interest (or interview trolling) in openly gay skaters and disco re-edits then, dag nammit, that’s what we f*cking need! Skateboarding is an inherently ever-progressing art form, so why in the hell is conformity so prevalent?
Hey Alex, if you ever get to read this, thanks for letting me do my job and take that picture of you on Go Skateboarding Day. No sweat about you not keeping the magazine. And yo, I’m from The Bronx and Uptown Manhattan (NYC), and there are a bunch of skaters from here that don’t know about the freedoms of shedding creativity-blocking layers of homophobia, filming a skate part to some awesome disco re-edits, or unplugging from the industry homogeny train. If you ever want to connect them with your uber progressive company — whenever you start it — let me know. I’d be down to support. Alex for mayor!