Articles by " Sean Gazzo"
21 Jun
2017

Go Skate!

June 21 is Go Skateboarding Day! For many people, skateboarding is a hobby, but for many more, it's a reason to exist.

And for many others still it's actually a job.  There is an entire industry dedicated to the production of skateboards and skateboard related material (helmets, grip tape, etc.) and the culture that surrounds skating.  This includes movies, television, sporting events, video games, and clothing lines.  Indeed, one of the biggest and most popular shoe companies of the past 20 years actually specialize in making skate shoes.

Perhaps you're familiar

Skateboarding has its roots in the 1940s and became particularly popular in the 1960s.  Originally referred to as "sidewalk surfing," skating competitions were mild in comparison to the large events held today.  Contestants were judged on simple tricks such as manuals and handstands.

Don't act like you're not impressed

This all changed with the Zephyr skate team, bringing the style closer to the ground, pantomiming surfing.  As the sport changed, so did the boards.  They became wider, the tails of the board became more pronounced, and new polyurethane wheels gave riders better traction and control.

Jay Adams of the Zephyr skate team exemplifying their influential surfer style.

Throughout the years, skateboarding's popularity waxed and waned until the 1990s, when its popularity surged.  Today, most of the world is familiar with the culture.  I recently read this excellent article on skater girls in Afghanistan, providing liberation for young girls in the area where doing ANYTHING as a female is at the very least frowned upon.

When I was a teenager, Go Skateboarding Day was treated like an incredible summer holiday.  It wasn't just celebrated by skaters, but by practically everyone our age.  We would pick a stairwell or a gap and just sit there all day.  Skaters would spend all day trying to jump the gap or grind the rail, and everyone else would just hang out and be a kid.  It was magical.  You would come home after hours of hopping over the same concrete gap, sun drunk, bruised and scraped, and  feeling incredible.  Pure bliss.

I would be remiss if I didn't share one skating video in particular that really converted me from being a casual observer into one of those kids hitting a gap all day.  I've since given up skating, but this video seems to transport me to those days.

 

Now get out of your house or apartment or hostel or hotel room or wherever, go outside and GO SKATE!

9 May
2017

Happy Birthday Kermit!

It seems as though the Muppets never go out of style.  They have been active since 1955, becoming well known in the 70s with The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie and maintaining that success throughout the 90s.  Even as their popularity waned slightly in the 2000s (before their 2010 resurgence) the funny furry puppets still held great affection in the hearts of their original audience (and the children of that audience).  You simply cannot understate their importance.

And now that we all agree that the Muppets are easily the most important thing ever in history, in perpetuity, it would be hard not to argue that there are few Muppets (or anything made of felt) more important than Kermit the Frog.

Kermit made his debut in 1955 on The Jim Henson proto-Muppets creation, Sam and Friends, although he didn't really become a frog until his appearance in "The Frog Prince", at the time just resembling a plain lizard-like puppet.

He has taken the role as the de facto Muppet leader (in fact, since Disney took over the franchise, the "M" in Muppets has been dressed up to look like Kermit) and appeared occasionally on the children's entertainment juggernaut Sesame Street as an on-the-scene reporter.

Just...the best.

Kermit has since become a major celebrity, has written three books, starred and appeared in innumerable television shows, specials, and movies.  He has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and was even nominated for an Academy Award for "The Rainbow Connection".

Why all this Kermit love?  Well because he's a national treasure!  Also it's his birthday today (yes, there's a little bit of controversy over this considering he was born as an egg with about a thousand other siblings, but we are counting his first appearance, on Sam and Friends) and we think he is worth it.  I mean, the dude is 62 years old and still looks great.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KERMIT, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!