| Skate Penn - 6/29/03
Spicoli, our manager, handles all
these "action sports" guys. I love alien subcultures but
this really isn't one. These athletes make millions a year
competing and there's no prize money, it's all in
endorsements. It's a whole different way to look at
stardom. Yeah, the Stones are t-shirt salesmen, that's
where they make their real money, and these kids are
selling sneakers, but they're athletes and they're rock
stars in a really cool way. I've never seen such low key
superstars. And it's really a youth culture. Tony Hawk
makes millions a year and is the second or third most
recognized sports figure. I know the name Tiger Woods, but
I didn't know Tony's name. I asked our crew. The old
people had no idea, but Nate and all those guys knew right
In the Hard Rock parking lot, they had set up this festival.
There was music playing, and lots of people on bleachers.
I didn't see any competition (I had to do my stupid show),
but I saw them warming up. I saw a kid named Eric, in a
green baseball cap and white t-shirt. He was warming up on
his skateboard going around the "street track" which is
just plywood set up like mall stairs and railings. I was
told he just signed the first "8 figure" sneaker deal. He
sells more sneakers with his name on them that Shaq and
another basketball guy together. I was just watching them
warm up, but they're good. It's like watching jugglers
warm up, they miss all the time. They fall off all the
time. It's pretty amazing stuff. I loved their youth. I
loved the way they stood. I loved the humility coupled
with the cockiness. There seemed to be a real camaraderie.
These seemed like good kids. I watched a guy who looked
like Henry Rollins (he was the oldest there at about 30)
sign an autograph on a t-shirt for a little girl. He
looked so tough and he was so gentle and humble. The crowd
was so excited. It was going to be a great show. It
didn't seem like other sports. There was something else
going on. Something else that I wasn't part of. I watched
the old men talk to these superstars as they figured how to
make money off them. I watched the kids smile and be polite,
as the old people used their slang and fit in. It all
seemed very "Hard Days Night." These guys are the Beatles.
The Beatles when they mattered, when no grown up knew their
individual names. It was odd to watch the Beatles up close
and not know which was which and just watch and hear about
the money as though that explained it.
I watched Paul Rodriguez. He's "junior," his Dad's the
comic, but he doesn't use "Junior" because there's no
overlap in who knows him and who knows his Dad. He makes
millions of dollars a year. A lot more than his Dad. I
think he was 17.
I didn't stay long. I watched all the Hard Rock catering
in the VIP tent being laid out all nicely for beautiful,
skilled, genius kids who would eat with their hands. I
wished all the old people had been forced to wear tuxedos.
As I was leaving, I met a kid. Now, I've been using the
word "kid," like old geezer always do, for anyone that can
be trusted, anyone under 30. But, this was a kid, the way
kids use it. He's 13. I think his name was Ryan (but it
could have been Paul, John, George, or Ringo), he had a
bowl haircut (called "Arthur" I bet). He was a really good
looking kid. I had been talking to his Mom. His Mom was
younger than me and really proud of him. He had been out
warming up. Mom asked him if it was too hot. He said it
"sucked." I shook his hand as I was introduced to him. He
had this glow of health and gentle confidence and power
about him, but he was just a kid. He wasn't super tall, or
strong, or anything, just a good healthy kid. He didn't
seem snotty or anything. Polite, kind, not distracted.
This kid just won every competition. There are no age
brackets, he just won. He's a skate king. He's a boy king,
except he's not crazy, and snotty. What he has to prove,
he seems to do with a skateboard. His Mom wasn't a stage
Mom at all; she was just nice to him. They seemed close.
They seemed happy. Spicoli asked if he'd like to see the
Penn & Teller show. He said, "Could we?" He's makes
millions of dollars a year. Millions. He could buy the
Penn & Teller show and the theater.
It's a completely alien subculture. It's a youth culture.
Old people saw the Beatles and were scared. This old guy
saw these kids and I was just filled with joy. Man, things
are going okay.
I don't mind other guys dancing with my girl. The kids