WORDS AND ART: Abe Dubin
If you’re a skater—and you can read—you may have noticed something in your travels along the sidewalk. I, as someone who reads and as someone that some could consider a skater, find that whenever I go out, I keep running into these little metal signs that simply say “No Skateboarding.”
Sometimes the signs are white, red, or green. If you’re a skater who’s colorblind, the signs are usually white, black, and varying tones of gray.
Often these signs are as prevalent as signs that admonish smoking. The signs are mounted to a wall, and delineate a laundry list of activities banned from the premises: “No Skateboarding/No Rollerblading/No Scootering/No Bicycle Riding.” I’ve seen signs specific enough to prohibit “extreme/trick” printed in bold on the thin metal sheet.
Most recently, while out for a sweaty skate escapade I encountered a “No Skateboarding” sign that extended its authoritative reach to outlaw pets as well. This sign, in particular, read “No Feeding The Animals, No Skateboarding, No Dog Walking.” In that order. “No Skateboarding” was listed smack in the middle between rules governing the actions regarding animals.
It got me thinking. In the urban environment, “No Dogs” and “No Skateboarding” placards are almost always found simultaneously. Is the exploration of man-made spaces by skateboarders comparable to the instinct-driven wanderings of domesticated canines?
As skateboarders, we are constantly on the hunt for the next spot. A new place to mark our territory. Much to the dismay of property owners, skateboarders stake their claim by scratching or smudging any and all surfaces and walls. Like an unsupervised dog chewing the leg of a chair or digging their unkempt claws into the back of your dad’s armchair, skaters will chip away and ruin whatever is in their path. Sometimes this wreaking havoc is merely a demonstration of reappropriated ownership of the architecture; other times out of sheer and unabashed boredom. For instance: digging a hole, burying a bone, digging it up.
Like dogs, skaters will often “relieve” themselves wherever they please. Not just on fire hydrants (although they might Natas-spin on top of them).
Given the chance, skateboarders will zip around, completely uninhibited, frolicking in erratic circles, much like a dog chasing a squirrel. This can disrupt the goings-on of just about everyone else, but to the skater and dog, they’re just having the time of their life—seshing.
Orange Man’s latest all-weather opus, “Swan Ensemble”
Get more than one dog or skater together and the cultural similarities are uncanny. Of course, on first sight, barking ensues—“Yo bro!”—as they cautiously approach each other, they size each other up. Which hoodie are they rockin’, how worn are their shoes, is their board pristine or a waterlogged piece of driftwood? Eventually, the butt-sniffing ensues. “Wanna play S.K.A.T.E.?” Skaters need to find out what kind of person each other is. What kind of passion and skill do they possess? What kind of time and suffering have they devoted to the craft? Like relationships between dogs, the unspoken—the dance, movements, and gestures—say it all.
What is important to both the skateboarder and our furry friends is the pursuit of play. Play is seen as disruptive, wild, and dangerous. They are only certain places where play is permitted; a playground, for instance. That’s about it. Other than that, you should make use of your best judgement and stroll along quietly, put the plastic in the recycling bin and do your taxes. We all need to blow off some steam and let our hair down. If you’re a dog, you’ve got a lot of hair to let down, or bristle in every direction. No one and no little written reminder is gonna keep you from reaching your happy place!
As it turns out, most skaters can read, fortunately. If you have made it this far in the article without being able to read, kudos to your friend. Dogs on the other hand can definitely not read; they can barely understand any human language outside of the word “treat.” Literate or not, would either dogs or any skaters submit to the silent text of a tiny square sign? I think no-complys have made a giant comeback for a reason.
Abe Dubin, better known as “Orange Man,” *likes it when you scratch his tummy. Visit his YouTube channel and give him a treat.*
“The Orange Spiel” appears in the second issue of *Berrics Magazine. Get your copy in The Canteen today!*
For exclusive Berrics dogs skateboarding content, go here. Woof.