As of this summer’s Tokyo Games, skateboarding is an Olympic sport—and those of us who didn’t grow up popping ollies and skinning our knees might be wondering how that happened. Originally known as “sidewalk surfing,” skateboarding was invented in midcentury California and Hawaii by surfers looking for something to do when the waves weren’t great. Since the first commercial skateboard was sold in 1962, the sport has ballooned to a billion-dollar industry including magazines, movies, and merchandise. Kyle Beachy, the author of The Most Fun Thing: Dispatches from a Skateboard Life, and a devoted skateboarder and skateboarding critic, joins the podcast to explain how the pastime became a global sensation.
Go beyond the episode:
- Kyle Beachy’s new book, The Most Fun Thing: Dispatches from a Skateboard Life
- Behold: skateboarding at the Olympics
- For a taste of feature-length skate documentaries, try Dogtown and the Z-Boys (2001) or Minding the Gap (2018)
Three “high-reward skate films” recommended by our guest:
- Mouse: Spike Jonze directs a street skateboarding video from the latter days of the so-called “golden era” of the mid ’90s. A perfect example of what the traditional “skate video” form can yield.
- Paving Space: A 12-minute documentary about a collaborative art project between the Isle skateboard team and artist Raphael Zarka.
- Atlantic Drift Episode 11: Jacob Elliot Harris has defined a style for his Atlantic Drift project, and this one, featuring his lifetime friend Tom Knox, reveals just how vital the relationship between filmmaker and skater-subject is.
Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.
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