Car accidents are the major killer of young adults in U.S., but if kids figured out how much work adult life is, suicide wouldn’t be No. 3 for much longer.
I used to sarcastically (to the point of cynically) joke around at my last job that I was living the dream. I actually was in the American Dream sense of the term, and that’s because it was good work populated by some really great people. I just didn’t fully realize it at the time.
But right now, and I’m saying this to the 15-year-old kid that loved rollerblading more than anything else in the world and to the 22-year-old college graduate who wanted to be a writer, I’m living a dream I didn’t think was possible.
I’m making a living, at the moment, from writing and rollerblading, something no one could predict was possible in the 21st Century unless they were working for Red Bull to write a Taig Khris biography.
A few weeks ago, I was able to sucker Justin at Aggressive Mall, a good friend and longtime steward of rollerblading, into giving me a job. Yeah, I might have an ironic black lung from stirring up the dust of old newspapers in their new warehouse, but occasionally a homie stops by to make some informative blading shenanigans with the help of my dog and I.
And thanks to that I can put “Professional Go-Kart Stunt Driver” on my resume, which you know I have, anyone reading this during a background check. (And they give away free beef tacos at their monthly Meat Ups, so that helps n0urish a body.)
Besides days at AMall, I’m also freelance writing. It’s a really interesting combo, but it makes for interesting weeks. Such is the good life for anyone in blading or writing.
For me, it’s really interesting to see the day-to-day for the rollerblading industry. I’ve been talking to a lot of people for quite a while, but an added perspective to any situation always helps.
In case you’ve been living inside a Salomon for the last decade, rollerblading isn’t the most thriving recreational (professional? Ha!) sport on the globe, no matter how publicly accepted it is in Europe.
So here’s what I’m saying (again): rollerblading needs money.
From VOD to local skate shop patronage.
While some people are foolish to hold their breaths and wait for someone else to do something, the reality is that our ability to be a self-sustaining industry is becoming abundantly clear: it’s not that we can’t, it’s only that we’re not really that good at it right now.
Let’s just say if rollerblading were a public disaster or public television, we’re long overdue for a telethon…
…like if Mr. Rogers needed new lungs because of a drug-resistant tuberculosis infection.
And it makes the upcoming Blading Cup weekend all the better because, like any other rollerblader event or telethon, the money goes to a good cause.
In this competitive case, thankfully, it’s the talented skaters who will put on a damn fine show while risking their health and livelihood for something they love more than anything else in life. Not a bad way to spend a sunny Saturday in Southern California.
Then Sunday comes, there’s more work to be done, and then it’s time to pack it up and get home to the job that makes the money. It’s the same for the spectators as it those providing the spectacles.
And then we all have to continue to work to put on a good show for each other. That means good products at a good price as long as consumers are willing to invest in their hobbies and causes.
We, rollerbladers, may be few in numbers, but we’re passionate. We’ve got love. We’re all smitten little children who got their first crush on a great way to collect scars and stay in trouble.
We still rollerblade because, for us, it wasn’t a fad.
It was fun. It was friends. And it’s still about those same basic principals.
And that’s why I can’t wait for this weekend. I get to help build a quality course for some of the most talented athletes the world could ever witness. At least that’s how I see those bladers and bladies. And I get to do it with a whole bunch of good friends.
I love volunteering at the Blading Cup and being among the fortunate few to ever work at AMall. Both have given me a chance to actually do something to give back to rollerblading for giving me so much. I always dreamed it would be my athletic talent, but then puberty had some funny shit in stock and I’ve been dealing with it ever since. Doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop loving it.
So I’ll travel down to the Blading Cup after work Wednesday and come back up after helping put away ramps on Sunday.
And then I go to work at AMall on Monday. Haven’t had a bad one there yet. (Insider info: They named my dog, Friday, “Monday, because nobody likes Monday” on our first day. And those fuckers love them Monday now.) It’s been some needed physical work (especially since I’ve yet to do a single pullup), but also a reminder of important business skills—i.e. spotting the fraudsters early—that will come in handy quicker than I realize.
I haven’t had a bad day in a while…
…which is always nice to say.
Putting some sweat and creativity towards something that’s given me a greater sense of personality and family than many I share DNA with is a great way to earn a buck, whether it’s recognized currency or good ol’ karma.
And that’s what it means to be a rollerblader today, whether it’s ideal or not. It is what it is, and we all make it that way, good or bad. If you want it to be better than what it is right now, you have to put in the work.
Work, for many of us, is also identity. Men have always been known for their trade, and for many, it’s their namesake, like families with the last names of Guerrero, Farmer, Franklin, Foster, Fisher, Baker, Gardner, and a workload of others.
It’s also one of the first questions someone will ask you when you’re forced into conversation with someone, whether it’s meeting a pretty girl with an empty glass at a bar or or the company holiday party.
My formative college childhood idol Tyler Durden told me, “You are not your job.” But then again, he’s made up. Even in the made-up narrator’s head.
After all, money talks.
And we all dream that we’ll make it someday. Some people quit believing in their dreams, some people work on them on the weekends after working a stable job, and some people will do anything to see them through.
Those last ones, those crazy fuckers, are the people who deserve our support the most. Because dreams don’t come cheap, but nothing is earned if you fall asleep.
We’re all out there, the last holdouts of a species evolution wants to breed out. And we so happen to like wheels attached to our feet.
But in order to survive, we must continue to sustain ourselves. Unless you’re like those [SPOILER ALERT!} cannibalistic survivalists in the latest season of The Walking Dead, you’ll know that money is still a valid currency.
So here’s the telethon …
Get yourself some freshies, whether wheels, bearings, soul plates, or even a full new ride. You work hard. You skate hard. Life is getting shorter every day. You deserve it. Chase the dream.
You have to spend money to make money, and whatever you spend on your blading will only increase its life-affirming effects and rejuvenate your performance at your current workplace. You’ll get promoted. You’ll earn more.
So invest in your future success and invest in the latest and best accessories for your aggressive rollerblades.
If you’d make that order with Aggressive Mall, I’d be happy to watch that order be filled while I empty Dre, Nolte, and Doug’s garbage cans.
Still better than working at Wal-Mart.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — If you’ve been meaning to pick up my books and plan to be at the Blading Cup, come find me. I’ll have copies in my truck and can get you a good deal on them. I’ll be hustling for beer money while I’m there and gas money to get home.
For those of you who won’t be there, check out later article on Blade or Die and I’ll have the usual link at the bottom. I’m not posting it here because I won’t be able to send any orders out until next Monday. (But if you want to get a copy of my latest from Aggressive Mall, they’ll get it out the same day if you order before 3 p.m. Pacific Coast Time.)
Other shops carry my books as well. If yours doesn’t, ask them why not and hit me up on Twitter. I’m @citizenkrans.