The world is lucky to have an institution like The New York Times cranking out deeply researched articles. A couple of weeks ago, the paper posted an intensive dissection of what really happens when a surfer lands a skate trick (in the water), then attempts to name it. It might appear at first that this is going to be some academic egghead shit, but when the author, Matt Ruby, includes text chains with luminaries such as Mike McGill, Kelly Slater, and Tony Hawk (ever heard of him?), you realize you’re in good hands.
The article, "When a Surfer Lands a Skateboard Trick, Who Gets To Name It?," by Matt Ruby, is fascinating… and a little cringey. The trick in question, landed in May by Albee Layer, is ostensibly an “alley-oop 540.” Ruby’s research follows a trail of breadcrumbs* all the way back to 1978: Chris Strople’s alley-oop sequence, the first recorded, was published in the January 1979 Skateboarder.
Now, allow yourself to step outside of your skater head for just a few minutes after you read this and just try to see our territorial culture from an outsider’s perspective. Why do we care so much about trick naming? Is it really that important? The OGs of our culture seem to think it is, so it goes… on and on. Alley oops.
*Here’s one of several text chains included in the article. Courtesy of Mike McGill: