Shut up and Skate! Skate Tough or Go Home! Get Rad or Get Lost! All three of these calls to action are based on the same premise: Don’t talk about it, be about it! This “put up and shut up“ approach to skateboarding picked up in my earlier years has affected me greatly. The concept is definitely, and openly, aggressive—there’s no doubt about that—but the tough-love instilled in such ideology has made me a better skater and a better person in general. It has allowed me to err on the side of action and activity rather than complacency and mediocrity. Today, as skateboarding grows and expands to include a broader and more diverse range of riders than ever before, it seems only prudent to instill in the new generations the essence and vibe of those that have paved the way. I was taught at an early age to “Shut Up and Skate!” I listened and followed suit—I am extremely grateful for such awesome advice. Now it’s my turn to pass on the knowledge: Get Rad or Get Lost!
I was introduced to the concept of Shut Up and Skate back in the mid eighties while shredding the Corridor Ditch near Austin, TX. I remember one of the older dudes, Chris Ore, was shredding with us at this ditch we frequented after school and on weekends. One of Chris’ legs was almost a foot shorter than the other, and he always wore special, black Chuck Taylor Converse high-tops. The shoe on his short leg was equipped with a tall extended rubber sole attached to the bottom of it. We were not sure why his leg was like that. We tried not to even look at it, but sometimes we looked. Chris was one of the best skaters in our area despite his leg, and I remember him as one of the nicest dudes ever. He skated up that day and saw us bickering and talking shit to each other. He let it go on for a few minutes but soon he asked us to either join him in skating or to get the hell out and let him ride in peace. We all stopped talking after he spoke. He was special to us—he was the Shredder. We all looked up at him in silence for a quarter-moment. He turned away from us soon enough, dropped into the ditch, and began skating. We quickly got up from sitting on our boards and followed his lead. What he said that day affected me greatly. I cannot speak for the others, but that session is logged in my memory as one of the rawest and most memorable sessions I can remember.
I believe that the Skate Tough or Go Home ethos I leaned that day, and which was expressed so much in the 80’s skate culture of my youth, is more important now than it has ever been. We currently live in a skate culture that can easily get clogged to constipation with hype, marketing, Internet tough guys, social media diarrhea, and the evil vortex that is the skate forum—all of which have nothing to do with the actual act of riding skateboards. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, the skate community in general, and talking about skateboarding (Shit, I’m running my mouth right now!), but skateboarding ultimately is about the ride, rolling with friends, and exploring motion. That being said, more times than not I just want to Get Rad on my skateboard!
Obviously, in the real world there is more to being a skateboarder than just playing skateboard. I get it. That is exactly why I started Wheelbase Magazine in the first place: to be an extension of my passion for shredding, as a vehicle to help others spread and express their similar passion, as well as to create a practical means of fulfilling some of the more basic and universal human needs of obtaining beer money, gathering fresh undies, and securing a clean hobbit hole. Ultimately, the end goal is to get skaters skating. Talking about it doesn’t always get the job done—you have to ride, and ride daily, to know what’s it’s really all about.
I believe that everything in life boils down to finding a balance, and in a skate culture increasingly inundated with mass media chatter and the white noise of the Internet, Shut Up and Skate! & Skate Tough or Go Home! don’t seem like a bad place to continue the search of that balance. For the sake of a continued impetus towards the further exploration of skateboarding, I say, with a defiant deck (with razor tail) raised to the sky: Get Rad or Get Lost!