Day #118: The Pursuit of Happiness – “I’m An Adult Now”
Today, the 9:30 Club posted some photos from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers show out at the Verizon Center last night. I saw this photo of frontman Anthony Kiedis. At 49 years-old, Kiedis appears to be taking fashion cues from 12 year-old boys. It looked sad.
Per a sort of Plate-o-Shrimp effect this week, I ran across an op ed series in the New York Times called Hip, or About to Break a Hip? They invited five writers to respond to the question, “Is a 45-year-old pursuing a dangerous sport more embarrassing and risky, or inspiring and life-affirming?” While most all responses were positive (one author being one of those 40-something skaters), coming down on the side of it being inspiring and life-affirming, Matt Labash was not at all forgiving (see “Aging Hipsters are Sad and Dangerous“).
But unless you’re Tony Hawk, who at least gets endorsement deals for his debasement, nothing fills me with sadness and pity like the 45-year-old skater. He’s like that guy who wears retro porkpies (which are actually wearing him), or that woman who comes out of her plastic surgeon’s office with her lips looking as though she’s gone into anaphylactic shock. They think they look good. Meanwhile everyone else is stealing glances at other uncomfortable onlookers, as if to say, “Should we tell them?”
For Labash, the middle age skater isn’t just embarrassing if he looks like his teenage counterpart, but also because he’s chosen skateboarding instead of some other, probably more “respectable” activity not associated with something that mostly kids do. That’s too bad. I may think that Anthony Kiedis looks ridiculous, but I still like RCHP’s music.
When I first read this op ed series, I immediately thought of surfers. It’s not uncommon to find folks in their 50, 60, or sometimes even their 70s who still surf. Hell, look at some of the guys who were still on boards when they reunited with Bruce Brown for The Endless Summer 2. Some folks may not be able to do all that they could when they were younger, but it never stopped them from participating. (Unless you’re this guy, then you just do more).
The same is true for skating. Open the pages of a skateboard magazine, and you will see that a lot of your best known pros and former pros are pushing mid 40s and still skating. Tony Hawk is 43. Rodney Mullen is 45. Steve Caballero is 47. And former Z-Boy, Tony Alva, who is now 54, proudly assured that he is still skating pools.
It was something they started doing when they were kids and never gave it up. Sure, it probably looks comical to see much older guys on skateboards, because it’s something we haven’t seen before. Skateboarding is still fairly young, and these guys are part of the first generation of skateboard’s old folks. (Ditto for BMXers). Ask them when they’ll give it up and maybe they’ll echo the immortal words of Craig Stecyk: “the answer is never.”