Wednesday, July 28, 2010

City of Angels / around Venice Beach

The first things I can make out from the plane, besides the strangely familiar sprawl of buildings beneath the smoggy haze cradled in the Hollywood hills, are the tops of palm trees lining the roads - the familiarity of these, and so many features of LA, is the most striking thing about being here for the first time - a bit like experiencing something from a dream that's so familiar it makes you feel you've maybe lived that life once before already, in a parallel universe.. or in a movie, perhaps.. in this case, it's the all pervading parallel world of Californian culture, passed on down through all those TV shows and movies, and the books and the music, new and old, and even the old "Thrasher" skateboard magazines from the 80's...

For me, growing up at least partly under the inspirational guidance of Eric "EJ" Dorian, a childhood mate of my older brother "Oop", I was initially introduced to the skateboarding fold at age nine or so (circa 1987) and I went right in for it pretty hard from there, over the next year or so.

Somewhere on the periphery of developing the actual skills of balance and dexterity involved (not to mention the physically mauling rites of passage involved with coming off the board) there was the subliminal understanding that being a skater was about a whole bunch of other cool shit that was just as important. One thing I learned, whether EJ overtly meant to teach it to me or not, was that there wasn't just a right way or a wrong way of doing things, but there was also simply "my own way" and that my natural way of moving would inadvertently, and unavoidably, have an intrinsically inimitable style to it. I could fight against this or push it and explore it. So skateboarding became somewhat like laying down strips of creative expression, in movement, over the surfaces of the world in a very physically engaging way - great stuff for a 9 or 10 year old lad.

Thinking back on it now, I'd say that it was these kinds of experiences - often with the guiding presence of EJ there on the sidelines - just doing his thing ahead of me, making gnarly pronouncements of encouragement to a smaller younger fellow suburban kid in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne - that opened up the way for me to follow up the same types of creative possibilities in music, which is what ultimately took over from the skateboarding obsession for me. I never really felt any great deal of natural adeptness or talent for either skateboarding or music, but I have always found it constantly rewards in equal measure to the energy directed into it.

Beautiful passionfruit flower in bloom. Magnifique!

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