This is my new journal, and I love it. Skateboards cover the front and back. The teenager in me, who recalls the “old guard” of skateboarders of the late 1980s, feels drawn to this notebook’s bright colors and playful graphics.
As a high school student, I remember Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero and others gracing the covers of magazines like Thrasher and Transworld Skateboarding. Those publications still exist, and those athletes — especially ones like Tony Hawk — are still influential even though they are in their early 50s. And their original brand, Powell Peralta, continues to produce visually-stunning boards, including an annual Bones Brigade Series that draws on artwork from those legendary skaters’ first designs.
Here is what 2019’s Bones Brigade Series 11 looks like:
I never owned one of those boards — or any other one. Although I loved the bold graphics of the skating community, my personality did not align with those of my peers who were part of that scene. So I watched from a distance and admired the artwork of their boards, t-shirts, and stickers. And I paged through magazines, imagining what it might be like to be one of the guys featured on the glossy pages and in the cool ads.
Today, those gentlemen look like this:
When I stumbled upon this notebook in the clearance section of my local STAPLES store several months ago, I immediately scooped it up. It was only $1.00.
At the time, I didn’t think that I would use it myself. Rather, I imagined possibly making a blog post entitled something like “Journals for Teen Boys.” It would have featured the skateboard cover and others with designs that might appeal to adolescent males. Note — It does not escape my awareness that most members of this demographic are not hungry to embark on a personal writing campaign or keep a “diary.”
Little did I realize then that the adolescent male in me would begin feeling attracted enough to the skateboard journal that I did not hesitate to grab it after I filled up the last page in my New Year’s Adventure Journal.
And then I remembered something very compelling that I had lost track of while immersed in the essays, lessons plans, and letters-of-recommendation that filled much of my last few years of teaching: there is a professional skateboarder named Brian Bishop.
Here he is:
From what I have been able to learn online, Brian Bishop was in his prime in the early 2000s. He skated for a brand called Original, which was established in 2002 by brothers Scott and Brad Imbrie. Although Original is still producing skateboards, Bishop’s name almost cannot be found on its website. To the best of my knowledge, he has shifted his attention to a career in architecture and only occasionally shows up to skating events to lend support to his former brand.
Curiously, Brian Bishop did not use boards like those of the 1980s Bones Brigade squad. Rather than ride skateboards that were well-suited to stunts on half-pipes and acrobatics in empty swimming pools, Bishop piloted something called a longboard. As the name suggests, longboards are longer than their brethren: they measure 40 to 60 inches (nose to tail) instead of the 30-inch boards that were — and still are — ridden by the likes of Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk, and Steve Caballero.
When I laid my eyes on the graphics of today’s longboards, I felt the same surge of excitement that I did as a teenager when admiring the artwork on boards from high school. Longboards look cool. Here is one from Koastal, which offers boards that are handmade in the USA. This is their 38″ Pin Tail, and its colors make my mouth water:
This sidewalk cruiser mixes modern materials, a classy script logo, and a retro-cool shape. I just love it. The top looks like it could be a surfboard from the 1950s.
Anyway, all of this has been resonating inside me recently. So when I opened the cover of this notebook a week ago and penned my first entry, this is what spilled out onto the page (transcription follows):
2-11-19 7:37 AM — kitchen table, Crow’s Nest
Skateboarding? Yes, this journal features a design that I didn’t think I would ever gravitate toward — but I have. There’s something so appealing about the multi-colored geometric designs and the small wheels and trucks. The skateboards look like little toys that a very tiny person could ride right off the cover! I admire the gray, slightly-textured background, too.
The tri-color deep blue/light blue/sea foam board draws my attention immediately. But I also like the green deck with the brown and white pinstripes running length-wise. I imagine that if I could turn that board over I’d see a textured maple underside with a glossy finish. The contrast between the natural wood and the plastic wheels and stainless steel trucks would be pleasing. Three elements combined to create a simple device for rolling along streets and sidewalks. Simple, yet a vehicle for hours of fun and afternoons of exploration.
Former pro longboarder Brian Bishop may be retired, but former high-school English teacher Brian Bishop may be headed toward the skate shop this spring. Lake Orion is the place where living is a vacation. Perhaps it’s time to connect my teenage awe with my forty-something curiosity and hop on a board when the snow thaws and the temperature rises.
My vacation could get started this year on four small wheels and a flexible platform of seven-ply maple. Thank you for helping to inspire me, Brian Bishop.
Now, what I’d really like to know is this: Can I get you interested in journaling?
I altered the bottom photograph of longboarder Brian Bishop by inserting the journal. If I knew he’d use it, I’d pick up one at STAPLES and mail it to him.