I'm still curating front rocks. These are three of my most recent favorites.
The first and perhaps my absolute favourite front rock photo of all time is of Richard Armijo taken in 1981 by CR Stecyk. The frontside rock and roll was supposedly only 'invented' by Eddie 'El Gato' Elguera a little while before this photo was taken. How El Gato even thought the front rock was possible is mind-boggling enough and then to see it pulled with such style by a youngster shortly thereafter is a perfect testimony to what was once skateboarding's dichotomy of accesiblity and exclusivity. You can have this, if you really wanted it. The story goes "Richard Armijo and his pals were kicked out of the skatepark for the last time..." What we have here is a an early version of the backyard half pipe, crew cuts, no frills fashion, two young lads deeply engaged with cutting edge moves, doing things proper for themselves. Its a little different these days. In many ways skateboarding is way more accessible to way more kids but at the same time the level is so ridiculously advanced, most kids on the street can't touch the levels of the pros. Its like being fifteen and seeing a stadium rock band with full pyrotechnics Vs a punk band in your older brother's friend's basement. Which one is going to inspire to start your own band?
Rebellion against stadium rock brings me to the second photo. Deerman of Darkwoods, probably taken sometime within the last year or two in Vancouver BC by Brian Shamanski. Deerman is a member of the secretive and elusive Barrier Kult. The Barrier Kult represents an intentional rebellion against energy drink sponsored stadium contests amongst other commercial raping of modern-day skateboarding. They seek purity through the assault of the 'violent transition' best exemplified by the 'Jersery Barrier.' Through Black Metal, nature worship, obscure horror films, balaclavas, 80s skate equipment and 80s inspired tricks they make their 'ritual.' Not unlike Norwegian Black Metal bands who fetishize their country's pre-Christian history and ancient Nordic traditions, in response to global monoculture. It is a pretentious as all hell but so perfect at the same time. Anyway, Deerman is taking a front rock to a classic Vancouver BC Jersey Barrier. It is a fantastically bleak, black and white photo of the anonymous 'plague-spreader,' with hints of a brighter future breaking through the dark Cascadian clouds in the background.
Finally, we have a recent photo of Tony Hawk in a backyard pool taken by Ray Zimmerman. There is no denying Hawk's contribution to skateboarding and his skill has to be respected by everyone who has ever stepped on a skateboard. However, I have never been a fan. I never liked his style (except his backside ollies which are simply heavenly) and never liked his absurd sponsor list and emphasis on the competitive aspect of skateboarding. In a sense, Tony is the personification of what the Barrier Kult pretend to rebel against (I bet in real-life they'd have a nice time, though). In saying that, when I saw this front rock photo, I quickly dismissed all of that and promptly stopped over-intelectualizing skateboarding. It is simply perfect. In the end satisfaction with the physical act should be enough. Forget the scenes and baggage and work on getting the deck fully lapped and checked and your back big toe ready to pivot you back in for re-entry. Its the best thing in the world.