I’m sure you’ve heard of California.
It’s that long banana-shaped state taking up the greater part of our country’s western coast. There’re a couple, if not half a dozen, skateboarding meccas within its shapely boundaries, and if you want to be where the real action is-good weather, high-profile spots, magazines, and 98 percent of the skateboard industry-you’ll go to California.
You’ll love it. It’s a way of life.
Or so the thinking goes.
Luckily for us, over the past decade, many other locales have challenged that train of thought. “Why does California have to be the place?” the challengers ask. “Why not Philadelphia, New York City, Vancouver, Portland, or anywhere in Ohio for that matter? Why not anywhere except California?”
This thinking has no doubt benefited the globe’s regional skaters and skate scenes, who’ve chosen to re-embrace the DIY attitude so prevalent in the mid 80s-showing the entire world that the next great skateboarding episode could originate anywhere, from Prague to Peoria. Even on a strict diet of localism and sour grapes, if you’re a skateboarder, you’ll probably end up in California sooner or later.
The dark side in all of us may find ourself getting off the plane south of the state’s halfway point and immediately noticing that the atmosphere is weird and plasticy-a poly-consumer culture nightmare. Fake boobs, fake tans, fake trees, fake stars, fake weather, fake grass, and fake car owners. It’s like there’s a giant plastic bubble covering the entire sector. A short drive north and they will recognize a slightly more realistic vibe, but in contrast to the south’s rubbery feel, NorCal can come off harsh, brash, and understandably gray toward the skate-tourist.
With these truths so self-evident, again we must ask, why California?
Well, standing with your feet firmly planted elsewhere can make this question both easier and harder to answer. Easier from your public park in Colorado, New Jersey, or North Dakota, with your friends and the healthy scene you’ve helped build up around annual road trips, little contests, and all-night sessions. Harder when it gets cold, when the police kick you out of spots, when everyone quits skating, or if you’re looking for sponsorship support.
It’s these few harder things that’ll make you go. And you won’t be alone.
Confused? The next sentence might help clear things up.
Most of the people who live within the promising confines of California’s well-advertised imagery are not from there. They are, one and all, on their own individual Odysseys-answering the attractive call of the sirens. But as long- or short-term as their Cali-migration might be, these visitors are in full effect. They’re the ones experiencing the weather, they’re at the spots, they’re the money, and they’re surrounded by all the other skaters-tons and tons and tons of them. Best-and maybe the most overlooked-of all, they are California.
This does not mean they (or you) have to stay forever. Go there and then return home. Return home and then go back again. Visit for a handful of days, years, or decades. California, it seems, is very generous in offering its finest to the rest of the world-take as little or as much as you like. How better to spread the sweet word of the Golden State than through its satisfied masses? Billions and billions served. Drive-thru now open 24 hours. We love to see you smile.
Like any massive movement (steady on, mate), there’re rules and regulations pertaining to the import and export of California’s open-door mythology-two little ones, to be precise:
1. You must take what you gain from your Cali-migration, transplant it wherever you see fit, and make it work for you.
2. While in California, you must smear little bits of Michigan, Florida, Connecticut, Texas, or wherever you’re from on everything you come in contact with.
It’s thhose healthy transplants, smears, and smudges that add a very real and very priceless value to the myth-and, honestly, it’s the myth that truly makes California … well, California. A way of life.