Cities of Skate: Guest Editor’s Letter from Alex Sveda

Editors’s Note: When DISPATCH launched, people told us to take a look at the strong “state of skate” here in Minneapolis- St. Paul. To capture the scene, we brought in Alex Sveda—top notch skater, photographer featured in Thrasher, and DJ as Slamdunkapher—to provide this issue’s editorial direction. Here’s his own introduction:

Skkeerrtttt, a skateboarder screeches to a stop just before running into a blissfully unaware child on a scooter. Music blasts loudly from his blown out headphones. Beads of sweat run down his cheek and a drop of blood runs down his elbow from a fresh scrape. His shoes stink and he has a small hole straight through the side to his sock. “Last try, I promise,” he shouts down to his friend crouched at the bottom of the stairs with a camera.

“That’s what you said 20 minutes ago,” chuckles the camera man under his breath. Seconds later the skater comes flying back and pops onto the handrail next to the stairs, 5050s down it (grinding with both trucks on the rail) and lands at the bottom, rolling away with a big goofy smile. 

This is skateboarding. 

A couple weeks ago, buried behind some books, I came across an old yellow VHS tape that instantly brought me back to my teenage self. It was my first skateboard video, a video called sorry by Flip Skateboards, made in 2002. That’s when it hit me, I’ve been skateboarding for 20 years. Over half of my life. Around the same time I got into skateboarding I picked up a camera and I’ve been on both sides of the lens ever since. As teenagers, my friends and I used whatever cameras we could find and took pictures and filmed each other skateboarding nonstop. Something about skateboarding just needs to be documented, there’s a ‘prove it’ mentality and nothing really, truly counts unless there’s footage of it (and hopefully a good photo). It’s painfully obvious when I see a skateboard photo shot by someone who doesn’t skateboard themselves. It almost seems like there’s a formula and an unwritten code of ethics for a ‘good’ skateboard photo that would be used as an ad or make it to print, and it’s a whole process that I’ve really grown to love. 

I can’t say skateboarding is for everyone, but I can say I’ve seen just about every different type of person you can imagine doing it and loving it and that’s the beauty of it. We all share a love for pushing around this little piece of wood. In the beginning there’s a sharp learning curve and it takes weeks or months of awkwardly trying to push around before you even start to feel comfortable. I hate to say it but with skateboarding you really do have to pay to play. That payment comes as skinned knees, broken bones and bruised egos. But with that payment comes a silent level of respect that every skateboarder has for each other. You know that if someone is doing anything remotely cool or comfortable looking on a skateboard that they have fallen down and then got up to try it again. A lot. It’s inevitable, if you’re doing a good trick it’s probably taken days or weeks or even years to get to that point. Years later I’m still learning new tricks and every time I do I get the same rush that I did when I first started and that’s probably what keeps me coming back for more. Or maybe it has something to do with it leading me to countless friends, giving me some of my favorite jobs or taking me across the country. Thank You Skateboarding.

Pictured: Alex Sveda in his happy place. See more of his skate photos in his photo spread in this month’s print edition.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.