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Scarred for Life
Synopses & Reviews
Skateboarding is a means of transport, a pastime, a lifestyle, an artful expression, and an ethos. Some even call it a sport. But until now, the scene has lacked an appropriate — and accessible — tribute. Scarred for Life is an intimate, you-are-there look into the culture and history of skateboarding, as told through the voices and experiences of those who have dedicated their lives to riding a wooden plank with wheels. Eleven chapters take readers on a wild ride through the evolution (and revolution) of skateboarding — reaching as far back as the 1950s — and includes oral histories and terrain reports of the major styles and techniques as they emerged. One hundred dynamic photographs capture skaters doing what they do best in pools and pipes, on hills, ramps, streets, and skateparks. From the early proving grounds of California hills and pools to the chaotic streets of modern New York City, Scarred for Life offers street-level talk and eye-to-eye truth-telling about skateboarders, scars and all.
"Despite the subtitle, this homegrown, lowdown book comprises a full-blown history of skateboarding through paradigmatic case studies. Former Santa Barbara Independent reporter Hamm, who has been skateboarding since age six and had a concrete 'bowl' in his front yard, begins with a profile of the 55-year-old Bill Coleman and the Northern California scene of the 1960s and '70s and shoots forward from there. Some of the chapters cover favored locales ('Pools,' 'Pipes,' 'Ramps,' 'Streets'), others encapsulate decades, from the '60s to the present. Hamm writes in West Coast border vernacular ('kids became more stoked on learning how to frontside boardslide a hardrail than on smacking an alley-oop body jar on an extension with four feet of vert'), covering everything from the perils of taking a 40 mph turn on wet pavement to the pitfalls of corporate sponsorship. The 100 color and b&w photos, which he has culled from within the skateboarding community, are fetish-magazine hot if you're into it, but may seem somewhat anonymous and repetitive if not. The same could be said for the book as a whole, as beautifully designed and as lovingly pieced together as it is." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Journalist Hamm, a skateboarder for over a quarter of a century with the scars to prove it, examines a subculture that worships a chunk of wood with wheels on it. He traces the lives of riders from the 1960s through the 1990s and their rise and fall along the hills, pools, pipes, ramps, streets, and scruffy skateparks of America. He describes who rode in and who rode out, how styles and attitudes changed, who made music, who made money, and who turned skateboarding into a metaphor for a life charged with commitment, persistence, and the sure knowledge that not everyone would get it. Few of the skaters in the 100 or so photographs are vertical, which one would expect, but Hamm has also unearthed startling oral histories and commentaries. The book is a primary resource, and as such offers no bibliography.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the early proving grounds of California to the international recognition of the X-Games, this book offers street-level talk and eye-to-eye truth-telling about skateboarders--scars and all. 100 color and black and white photos.
About the Author
Keith David Hamm is a former news reporter for the Santa Barbara Independent and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, as well as numerous skateboarding publications. An avid skateboarder for more than twenty years, he l
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