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Titles Are So “Cliche”

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Team Roo Roo.

The night after Raleigh’s massive ice storm, I’m sitting in the back of an orange Honda Element as my friend Rachel tries to down a Bojangles cup full of coke and Bernadette’s. She takes a long sip then cringes at the windshield, “The straw is not making this easier.”  A few gulps later she’s got half of this concoction down and is content (or defeated) enough to hand the keys over to her roommate Norell. We hop outside and I almost slip on a tree trunk still slathered in ice. Our destination is a little bar called Brooklyn Heights. It’s Tuesday night, and that means skate trivia night. The bar is basically a little bungalow house converted into a drinking establishment- comfy, yet trendy- like most every other bar in Raleigh. Leather couches, dim red lighting, abstract artwork, a drum set in the corner- it’s a decent setup. Despite my fear we’d be late, only a few people are milling about around the bar area. How silly of me! This is an event run by skaters, like myself: 9pm means 10pm and “limit one guest per person” means bring your whole extended family. After chatting with Rachel and establishing that our team name for the night would have to be “Roo-Roo”, the MC’s of the night show up: pro skater Dan Murphy and, for all intents and purposes, pro skater and stand up comedian Sturgill Horn. I extend my hand out as “the Sturg” approaches, but he disappears behind my shoulder and leaves me hanging. Just as I’m beginning to feel like maybe these guys aren’t really my friends, I feel two strong hands start to massage my shoulders. Sturgill leans in by my ear, “A lot better than a fucking handshake ain’t it, man!” He pats my back, “Thanks for coming out,” he says, giving a gentlemanly nod to Rachel as he makes his way into the newly amassed crowd of skaters and the women who love them. The loose theme for tonight’s trivia was DC Shoes. Rachel implores me to check on my phone real quick for what DC stands for (Droors Clothing), certain that that would be a question. Unfortunately that factoid wouldn’t help- these questions were impossible, even to self professed nerds like us. “Team Roo Roo?” Sturgill announces into the mic after the first round is over. “Hell yeah” we yell, expecting first place. “Y’all did not get shit!” He chuckles. I pick up our answer sheet. After the first round we only have two of ten questions right. The leaders are a pair of  other pro skaters, with eight. However, I remember that the best illustration and the best team name gets a prize too, so I feverishly sketch out the Sturg and give him a quote bubble with one of his classic lines from a video he was in: “Jed, we can’t stop this…Listen, don’t tell no one nothing, but I’m gonna stop smoking weed.” To anyone in the know, this was an instant contender. Everyone in the bar caught sight of my crude little drawing and thought it was perfect. It was enough to win the best illustration hands down, and we step up to get our free shirts and stickers. Due to the ice, I wouldn’t have go to school till Thursday.

The first day of class is always weird. No matter how much I try and anticipate it, nothing seems to go right at all. My first class is Biblical Foundations of Literature. Basically, you’re getting the background in all the Bible stories so you can better understand their use in past and present contexts with regard to literature. It’s helpful for me, since I’ve never really read the Bible too much. Not that I’m irreligious- I’m not- I’m just Catholic. There’s not too much of an emphasis on outside reading or studying of the texts for most regular Catholics, unless you’re a priest. Catholicism is a lot more about rituals to commune with the divine. Since God is on such a high level compared to humans, we can really just make attempts (chanting, candles, Eucharist, etc.) to understand the completely perfect realm in which He operates. I’ve always felt, from living in the Bible Belt, that I have more in common with Muslims or Hindus than with Baptists or Evangelicals because of that outlook. Obviously the Scripture is equally important in Catholicism, but you get where I’m going. I have read some, but usually just the Proverbs, since they’re helpful tips on how to live one’s life. I could really go on for a while about religion since it fascinates me so much, but people usually don’t like to hear about it, so we’ll leave that for another post. Anyways, I have to stay after to tell the teacher to add me to the class, since I’m on the waitlist. I have fifteen minutes to get to the other class and this lady is talking to him. “So, were the gospels of Jesus written in B.C. or A.D.?” I can’t believe what I just heard. All my years of Catholic education, all the hours I spent hunched over whispering rosaries before classes began, all the stupid people I had to convince we don’t worship the Virgin Mary or the saints, all that almost comes to boiling point of zealous rage- then it fizzles out. I shake my head. I, as a boy literally drilled in Church history and complex theological doctrines like “just war theory” and “transubstantiation”, may very well not be able to get into a Bible class because this lady isn’t sure whether the accounts of Jesus’ life were written after his death or hundreds of years before. I have five minutes to get to the other class now and the conversation is still going on. I tell the girl next to me my name and that I need to be added, then bolt. Just so you know, B.C. (now the politically correct BCE) stands for “before Christ” and A.D. (now CE)  stands for “Anno Domini”, not “After Death” as some think. It means “Year of Our Lord”- that’s why when you read things written before modern times, they usually say “1095, the Year of our Lord.” By the way, 1095 was the year of the First Crusade- that came after Jesus’ death.

"...eating some pizza, learning about Cuba!"

The next class is a Civil War history class. It’s a cramped room, so I shuffle around and manage to snag a desk in the back next to this attractive young Chinese woman. She looks a lot like my friend Mayday, actually- and not just because of the ethnicity. As I’m waiting for some haggard old professor to walk in, she stands up and begins gleefully handing out syllabi. I’m taking aback by the fact a young (and rather cute), Asian lady is teaching a class all about the American Civil War- a subject I figured only concerned white Southern males, with or without some shifty agendas. So it came full circle, and now my ignorance was surprising me, much like the religion class earlier. This professor (Dr. Lee) is a bit odd in the sense that she’ll be so bubbly and playful as she says things like “And everyone I’ve ever caught guilty of plagiarism has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Yay! Now let’s talk about the essays, guys!”

Due to a time constraint I’m sitting in the next class behind one of my skateboard friend’s ex-girlfriends with a pizza box, muching away as we say what our favorite book is and what our experience with Middle English is. The teacher points to me. I swallow a bite of cheese pizza- “Well, that’s a hard one, but I’m going to have to say Fight Club for right now. Middle English…I took the history of the English language with Thomas last year, really liked that,” I say as I reach for a fresh slice. My teacher retorts as I reach down. “Really? What do you remember?” he asks. I feverishly think of keywords. “Great vowel shift, strong verb mutations, lots about Indo-European and how it broke off and all its offspring languages traveled.” He seems impressed, “Great vowel shift. That occurred when again?” He obviously knows the answer and is testing me. “Between Old and Middle?” He smiles, “Between Middle and Early Modern, actually, but good guess. That class will help you in this one.” I continue eating my pizza- I feel like Jeff Spicoli and I like it.

For the first time since I began college, I have Fridays off. Well, to get technical, I have Monday and Wednesday off too, but that’s when I’m doing my internship at the OIA. Yet, this Friday I’m coming in to get a run through of the job and meet everyone I’m going to be working with. The perks of the job are this: I have my own actual office in Harrelson Hall, I get my own computer and printer and access to the employee’s stuff in said building, and my supervisor is pretty cute. Basically the job is to be a liaison for international affairs on campus. Press release from the chancellor on diversity? Article on a faculty member for a magazine? Photos of the Japanese Tea Festival? I’m your man. Whether or not this will actually happen like Chentell says it will, I don’t know- but that’s what I’m lead to believe. Chantell (my boss) walks me and my fellow intern, Jasmin, over to Daniels Hall to meet everyone in the main office. The head of this whole thing is a very professional Asian man whose name escapes me now. His office was massive and his suit was impeccable, right on par with someone like my dad. His handshake was firm; no doubt he’s shaken a lot of hands in his day. I felt very sloppy compared to this guy despite “dressing up” in a sweater, but he notices my board and smiles. “I like your method of transportation!” I thank him and thus concludes the tour.

East Coast Snarl. Me and legendary skateboard photographer, Reda.

All week I had been looking forward to Friday. Not because of the OIA tour, but because Cliche Skateboards was having their own tour, ending with a signing at Endless Grind. Cliche is a company based in France, and their roster is basically the best five or six skaters in all of Europe. Lucas Puig, J.B. Gilet, Flo Martain, and also an Australian named Andrew Brophy who has massive ollies (we’re talking about four feet here!) They also have two Americans- Joey Brezinski and prodigy kid Daniel Espinoza. I pick up my fellow skater Luke and we shoot on over to the shop. We pull in and the place is packed, but luckily there’s a space the kids are using to skate flatground still open. I don’t want to ruin their session, but they wave me in and we secure the last spot. The van is parked out front and the first thing I see is Lucas Puig walking around with a Starbuck’s cup. I take a breath. This guy is my favorite non-American skater. Lucas was in probably the greatest skateboarding video of all time, Fully Flared, and I’m fanning out a bit. He’s come up with grind to grind combinations I’ve never seen anyone else do and his control of the board is pure mastery. He’s also not afraid to huck his lean, Parisian frame down some seriously big stairs. As we walk inside, Luke spots someone else I’m a huge fan of. “Yo, man. Isn’t that Reda?” I look up and sure enough I see a short, stocky Brooklyn photographer milling about by the shoe wall. This is awesome. Giovanni Reda is one of the most famous skateboard photographers of all time. Not only does he have skill, he’s also got a legendary personalty. His claim to fame is being able to make you laugh hysterically while he’s systematically  tearing you down with biting sarcasm. We get in line for the signing and start shuffling through. It’s hard to talk to someone who’s famous (either to you or to the broader community.) You don’t want to say something stupid like “I really like you”, but you also don’t want to stand there silently, or talk their ear off. The good thing about pro skaters is they’re usually pretty grounded and friendly. They’re exactly like you, only they get paid to do what they do. There’s no reason to be high and mighty, we all like skating and all of us contribute to skateboarding in our own way. Someone like Lucas respects what a local kid did on a ledge just like we respect what he did on some ledge in Paris. Speaking of  contributing, I overheard the owner, Sub, talking to the Cliche team manger while we we’re in line. He indicated my direction and said “…yeah, and we got some guys over here really doing it.” The team manager looked over at me and nodded his head. I assume he was talking about NC SKATE. I made a mental note to make sure we give any visiting skaters some NC SKATE product from now on, as a token of thanks. I get my stuff signed, manage to say what’s up to Lucas and he smiles back (the language barrier was huge- and the team manager was doing on-the-fly French translations so the riders could understand what the kids were saying.) I get to the end of the line and see Reda standing around. I just have to get my picture with this guy, I idolize his sense of humor. I ask him to sign my poster and he promptly crosses out the “That’s so rad!” slogan (some non-skate sponsor was hosting the tour in conjunction with Cliche. I guess they’re still stuck in the 80’s) and turns it into “That’s so Reda!” Perfect. I managed to get a picture with Reda and then we head off as the little kids start bumming cigarettes off Lucas and Flo, certain that a little badass behavior will merit them getting a free board or a lesson on how to do 360 flips.

Lucas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKQvWUORWhQ

Reda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlwcUaWwYIc&feature=related

Bonus Reda: http://www.radcollector.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/IMG_6064_1.jpg

Look for some completely new concepts for the blog in a few days. Lots of stuff is brewing and lots of stuff is ready to be tapped. That is all.

Listen to This: “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”- Naughty by Nature, the entire “Life Like” album by the Rosebuds, “Ain’t Talking About Love”- Van Halen

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Written by dstclaire

January 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

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