Snow

I have a complicated relationship with snow.

My father – like all Italian fathers – thought it was important that I learn to ski at a young age. Perhaps this comes from growing up in a country with an Alpine border. So he took us to the local bunny slopes in Pennsylvania where I learned to coast gently on the powder and sip steaming hot cocoa by the fireside in my wet jeans. As a teenager I became a skateboarder, and so naturally in winter I began to snowboard. One winter we even took a trip – friends only! no adults! – up to the slopes for a weekend. While my friends were getting trashed and wrecking the room at the Days Inn, I hooked up with a girl I had never seen before, resulting in an unexpectedly hot night. The next day on the slopes I remember thinking, “Do I have a girlfriend now?” When we got home I promptly discovered she had moved in with my friend Jeff. At least I had an answer: I did not have a girlfriend now.

Years later, after I had moved to Italy, I was visiting a cousin in Zurich when I found myself again on the slopes. This time they were real Alpine slopes with staggering views of what appeared to be the entire continent of Europe. I was on borrowed skis for the occasion. With the Swiss there is no dilly-dallying on the beginner slopes. These people race right up to the top of a mountain and down the other side like rabbits. When I found myself on a slope, which for all intents and purposes seemed liked like a mountain-sized vert ramp made of ice, I began to have second thoughts. “There are only two ways down this hill,” I was told by my Swiss companion. “On your skis or on your ass.” I seriously contemplated the second option for what seemed like years, staring down at the infinite whiteness. A knot formed in my stomach. When I finally thrust myself from my shaky perch, I made it some part of the way down the mountain before hearing a distinct “craaaack!” and feeling my leg twist around like a rubber Gumby doll. I lay there sure I had broken my leg. The pain was intense. I had no phone, spoke no German and had no idea where my cousin or his family were. I was three hours outside of Zurich, eight hours from Rome, an ocean and a mountain range away from New York City (still home to me then), alone and writhing in pain on a mountainside in deepest Switzerland.

I spent the rest of the week reading Nietzsche’s The Gay Science in the lodge and obliquely chasing after Italo-Swiss ski bunnies. I wrote a lot of poetry in those days, continuing work on a Don Juan-esque epic I was writing (to be published after my death) and musing on what the fuck I was going to do when I got back to Rome. My leg, it turned out, wasn’t broken.

I haven’t touched a slope since then. When people ask why I don’t go skiing in the winter – settimana bianca is an Italian tradition – I say I don’t like having things fastened to my feet. Of course, as a skateboarder it’s becoming more difficult to make excuses for not wanting to ski. And now that our daughter is old enough to begin taking ski classes I envision having to return to the dreaded mountains again soon. Seeing the distorted smirk on my face, my wife says, “You can snowboard, you know.”

“I don’t like having things attached to my feet,” I repeat, changing the subject.

My setups

Ever since I got my current setup I’ve been trying to remember the ones I rode back in the day. My very first setup was a Vision “Gator” kaleidoscope model. This was 1987. I have no idea what trucks I had, but I probably had Slimeball wheels and Ugly Stix on that board. My next setup was a black SMA Natas Kaupas with the panther graphic. I was probably riding Independent trucks (we all were), and big, soft wheels of some sort.

This was the era just before the noses began to get longer and wheels began to get smaller and harder. The Natas model was ostensibly a “street” board, but by today’s standards it’s difficult to see how that could be. But we still weren’t doing flip tricks or noseslides.

Unfortunately I can’t remember any of the other decks I rode. I must’ve gone through a bunch of them between 1988 and 1993. Here are a few models I may have owned.

–H-Street Matt Hensley: You can see the shape is already morphing and the nose is getting more foot-friendly. Hensley was my favorite skater around the time of Hokus Pokus (1989).

        

–New Deal Ed Templeton: Something about this graphic looks very familiar. I loved New Deal in 1990-91.

–Blind Jason Lee Foghorn Leghorn: Or was it the Cat in the Hat model? Who can recall?? Jason was a big influence around the time of Video Days (1991).

–Pure speculation at this point, but I may have had this H-Street Mike Carroll (1991) with the Calvin & Hobbes graphic.

Of course I understand that memory is fallible and I don’t claim to have actually owned any but the first two on this list. It’s all guesswork at this point. It’s frustrating, actually. I wish I had a better memory. I wish I had kept a better archive of my past. All that I have are a few photos and a few minutes of poor quality video a friend has salvaged from his old camcorder from 1991. Thankfully, today things are easier with the internet and smartphones. I can even document my progress by myself so when I’m sixty-four and senility sets in I won’t have to rely on my faulty memory to reminisce about skateboarding in my forties.

This is my first setup, which is about to be retired as soon as the weather improves. It is an Enuff complete, 7.75 with 53mm wheels, Bones Reds bearings and Grizzly griptape.

This was my first setup. Now it's on its way out. #skateboarding

A photo posted by Marc Di Martino (@godlessinitaly) on

But why worry about such things as what kind of skateboard you ride? Let’s just say that when you skate you personalize things, from parking blocks to clothes to the board you ride. It all becomes a part of who you are. This has never been so apparent to me as when I discovered I was unable to recall the boards I rode so obsessively in my youth. It’s like a black hole in my memory. For what it’s worth – probably only to me in the end – let me record the present for the sake of the future.

#instagrammaton

Bad blogger. As things stand I seem to update this blog about twice, maybe three times, a year. Every time I log in I find I need to reset my password. Half the blogs on my blogroll are defunct or have moved to classier digs. Whatever. I’ve been having fun on Instagram lately. You can follow me here: instagram.com/marcdimartino

Photo: Faucets.

Long lost post

Image
Graffiti. Richmond, VA.

If anyone is still reading this blog – and the stats indicate that someone is – it may be surprising to see a new post. But wait. I have an explanation for why this blog slowed down in the last year and came to a standstill. I’ve been busy with work. So that’s it. 

I used to write a column in a magazine called the American, which I discontinued last month. I couldn’t keep up with that, either (yep, work). I wrote that column for over four years, every month, but in the end I began having trouble figuring out what to write about. I never really got much feedback from readers – there was no comments section – but since I stopped writing I’ve begun to hear things like, “I hope you’re still writing that column. I really enjoy reading your articles!” My mother even suggested I should collect them and make a little book. She’s so sweet.

The point being that if I ever find time I’ll probably begin writing this blog again. It’s my little space in which I can do what I want. I’ve put a lot of time into it since it began in 2009, and it’s a bit sad to see the last post dated 2012.

Who knows what I’ll be writing about, though. Atheism? Jewishness? Music? ELT? Maybe all those things, maybe more. Stay tuned.