Beastie Boys: Check Your Head

Song: “So Whatcha Want

We were recapping the VMA’s for TWoP last night, at a certain point, probably in the middle of hearing a Ying Yang Twin shout “Haaaang” or when I’d heard the millionth whistle as a way to keep a beat, I just… I just lost it. I got so sad for music, and how hard it is to find something good for free. For free, you know what I mean? Turn on the radio, and the sound coming out doesn’t suck. This is a very difficult thing to do.

I know I’m asking a lot from the Beastie Boys, but if they could just make an album a year, the entire world would be a better place. If they could maybe teach other artists how to make albums that never get old, never sound tired — even over a decade later. If “So Whatcha Want” came out tomorrow, it would still be booty-shaking awesome. Click the link above to see the lyrics. See if you don’t start grooving in your chair, just reminding yourself of the words in the song.

But back to me. “So Whatcha Want” reminds me of my brief, but fun, skateboarding period. I had a Mike Vallely board that was supposed to be for ramp, but all the other boards were too heavy for me. That and the board was free — it was my boyfriend’s. He let me cover it in Greenpeace and peta stickers because…well, because he loved me. There’s no other excuse. I hippied that board up.I spent weeks trying to land an ollie. I’d be out in the street in front of our house, kicking and jumping, kicking and jumping, wearing down my brand new pair of Vans. I’d call myself a poseur except I really wanted to be able to do all those tricks.

My mother freaked out the first time she saw my legs during my skateboarding phase. Heavy, purple-black bruises lined the inside of my thighs, all around my knees, and there were cuts down my shins. “It’s bad enough you’re barely a girl,” I remember her saying. “I can’t get you in a dress, you won’t wear pantyhose, your clothes are too big and you’ve got your hair in your face… but I will not having you looking like I beat you, too.”

So I kept my skateboarding to easy tricks and never tried anything as scary as a railslide down a flight of stairs. I’d watch the boys do it, slamming their heads against concrete repeatedly as they failed to land the trick. It’s easy to talk yourself out of trying something dangerous when you just watched all your friends eat shit right in front of you.

But there are days when I see skateboarders hanging out in a parking lot, or near a flight of stairs, quietly circling, working out their trick-of-the-day, when I miss my board. You take five or six kids who think the world doesn’t understand, they’re miserable and sad and wondering when the hell they’ll get out of Houston, you make it crazy hot and humid, dress them in heavy jeans and black t-shirts, and have them break the law simply by standing on boards with wheels. You skate and talk about nothing for hours. You’re supposed to be in your own world, you and the board, you and the next opportunity to land the trick. This next time you’ll do it. You understand how it’s done. Skate up, ollie, and slide the parking block. Then just land it, and bam. This simple movement can take hours of your life, depending on what obstacle you’ve placed in front of you this time. Over and over, the same trick. For a group of kids considered total slackers, the tenacity, ambition, drive and imagination required to be a good skater goes against all the slacker qualifications.

I almost bought myself a board last month. That’s how silly this has gotten in my head. I thought it’d be nice to go outside for a couple of hours a day, iPod in my pocket, and try to land some stupid, simple tricks. Just jumping and kicking, all by myself, me and the parking block. Dumb. I can’t even imagine how ridiculous I’d look, trying to learn everything all over again. At thirty. As much as my mom winced at my thigh bruises, I’m pretty sure my husband would be speechless with the overwhelming amount of teasing comments that would flood his head. It’d be different if the lot where I worked allowed you to skate from office to stage. They have bikes for that. So I don’t even have an excuse to get a board. They’re banned from the lot, the street in front of my house is covered in gravel, and I have nobody else who skates, so who’s going to teach me anything? What, do I skate down to Hollywood High? What is wrong with me?

So, yeah, this song reminds me of the first time I landed a trick I thought I’d never land. It reminds me of being covered in sticky sweat, drinking a Gatorade, coming in from the sun and plopping down on the couch with a few friends and watching MTV until we all had to go home. It is the sound of hot Houston summers, the promise of college up ahead, and the frustration of trying to land a trick that will always be just out of your reach.

That and I’m the illest motherfucka from here to Gardena.

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