WORDS Marcus Bandy
For me, skateboarding has always been a vehicle for revolution—a way to fight for change. When I was a boy, skateboarding was a revolt against tyranny and violence in my home, a fight against religious zealotry, and it was an attempt to escape the disconnected and sluggish machine of public education. I despised all of these things, and found them completely against the true progress of my humanity, and humanity as a whole. Such struggle forced me to view what most do not, or will not: that there are a multitude of people—good people—who don’t “fit the mold” for whatever reason. Skateboarding saved my life! The skateboarding of my youth was lawless and happily anarchic—just what I needed at the time. We rolled as we pleased, created and built what we could with whatever we had at-hand, and we made up moves on the fly. It was a truly liberating experience. Later, it became something more focused and a dynamic practice to be built upon—a platform and foundation for so many other pursuits and creative outlets. I remember vividly watching pros like Natas Kaupas skating the way I wanted to: freeform, in the streets, and repurposing the urban and suburban prison surrounding him on all sides (Well, that was the way I interpreted it). I remember Natas wearing a Public Enemy shirt in his “Pro Spotlight” feature in the February, 1989 issue of Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. Public Enemy was so important to me at that time, and although I’m obviously not black, I related completely to the strong, community-driven, and revolutionary voice of their music. That moment and that particular pairing of mediums of art marked, for me, the ultimate confluence of what I believe skateboarding is all about: A Freedom fight!
Which brings me here to the now—a time in which civil unrest in the US and on a global level is frothing and boiling up. And even though the corporate-controlled media assures us that these outburst are merely that of isolated hordes of insects in need of the all-knowing guidance of the oligarchs who sit unnamed and act freely via their buracratic puppets; we all know, in our hearts-of-hearts, that they are full of complete shit—that all they spew is an utter & sickening farce. We know the honest story is that many real people are struggling, wearily—they are fed up, and revolting in an attempt to cast off their overwhelming burden.
“So, you’re a revolutionary, huh, Marcus? Please tell us more about your ‘freedom fight!’” (Picture in your mind if you will that Willy Wonka meme. Ha ha!)
The answer is yes. I am an unapologetic skateboard revolutionary who believes that the stories of skateboarding should be told by the skaters who have dedicated their lives to the growth, longevity, and diversity of their community and culture. What I do not have faith in is manipulated, manufactured, and watered-down stories told by bought-men with selfish interests. Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither pointing fingers nor mentioning all this without looking in the mirror at myself first and foremost. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt my community. But the key is to move forward and to grow. Killer Mike, one of my personal favorite musical artists who’s been in the hip hop game for a long time, touches on a similar sentiment in “Reagan” from his 2012 release, R.A.P. Music:
The ballot or the bullet, some freedom or some bullshit
Will we ever do it big, or keep just settling for little shit
We brag on having bread, but none of us are bakers
We all talk having greens, but none of us own acres
If none of us own acres, and none of us grow wheat
Then who will feed our people when our people need to eat
So it seems our people starve from lack of understanding
Cause all we seem to give them is some balling and some dancing
And some talking about our car and imaginary mansions
We should be indicted for bullshit we inciting
Hella children deaf and pretending it’s exciting
We are advertisements for agony and pain
We exploit the youth, we tell them to join a gang
We tell them dope stories, introduce them to the game
Just like Oliver North introduced us to cocaine
In the 80s when the bricks came on military planes (Verse 1. Lines 1-16)
So yeah, Wheelbase is an attempt at a Revolution of sorts. I just want to grow diversity and authenticity in the culture that saved my life and gave me a voice. Because Skateboarding! To be quite honest, there are a whole lot of polished turds these days—big, beautiful, and elaborately adorned turds. It stinks, I don’t like it, and I am fired-up to do my part to eradicate the putrid pungence of water-downed wackness. The struggle continues. . . Also, I just wanted to post that rad Natas shot from Todd Swank, and also talk about one of my other loves, music. Shredlove!