A Call To Vote From Birdman, The Gonz, & More by Colin Read

Dear Letter Subscribers,

Skaters Vote has been hustling on this video for about a month and now it’s live. I have some things to say but first I wanted to share a bit about the project from the press release because a lot of great people donated their time to make this incredible and surreal video embedded above. (I can say that because Colin & crew deserve the praise and it was their vision).

So here we go:

Skaters Vote has teamed up with filmmaker Colin Read to create its official voting PSA. Narrated by Tony Hawk, and featuring a diverse ensemble of skaters including Mark Gonzales and Mark Suciu, the goal of the video is to not only energize the skate community to vote in the upcoming election but to explain that voting is an easy way to stay activated.

The video PSA was the concept of Read, skate video creator and director of music videos for groups such as Radiohead, Danny Brown, and Doves. Produced by Sea Cow and Pulse Films, with a team of film industry professionals who love skating—including creative director Jacob Ireland, producers Leon Derriey and Cameron Cuchulainn, and director of photography Eric Schleicher—it was filmed within New York City in the month of October.

Sea Cow explains: “It’s the most pivotal year in modern history. There’s a lot at stake and a lot to skate for. Plenty of messaging has already been created that targets the youth vote but skaters are a peculiar breed. We don’t like people telling us what to do—which is why we skate in the first place!”

As a huge fan of Colin Read’s work, it was rad that he not only reached out to make this happen but was so energized. So we all pooled our resources, reached out, texted, emailed, and punished everyone possible, and boom, here we are. Also, HUF Worldwide was gracious enough to donate some proceeds from their “VOTE” capsule to help make this look as dialed in as it is.

So yeah, let’s open up the trite topic of “Why should skaters vote?” again since the video isn’t about that. I’d like to point you first towards a great organization based in California called Skate To the Polls. They own the territory of why skaters should vote. I’ve also discussed this several times but I’ll spare you any rehash of that and make this broad and hopefully simple.

At its core, skateboarding is an outsider sport and its existence is regulated by law.

Skateboarding is also an activity that will shred your body.

Skateboarding is also the most diverse its ever been, and lastly, yeah, it’s all about public space and even small business. I dunno, no one asks why the NRA exists and guns are legal, so why should skaters vote?

I think it’s a progressive metaphor. I’ll explain.

Activism is most effective when it’s preemptive, not reactionary. If all the Boomers actually followed through on the promises and romanticism of their youth, maybe we aren’t protesting all Summer, Fall, and most likely for years, the environment isn’t eroding, there’s less poverty, better education, and whatever other negatives you can think of. I mean, fuck, maybe the Iraq War never happens? Instead, the Boomers loved themselves and also money, as Don Henley wrote and sang:

I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac

That’s kind of it. So OK Boomers, what about the next influential generation? Oh yeah, instead of playing the stock market, they make the stocks—the Silicon Valley world that powers our devices and lives.

As much as the people in Tech are “making the world a better place,” that’s mostly a ruse to feel better about making money. I don’t buy it and the reason is that now that social media has become so toxic and influential, you get these folks that worked at Facebook or Google or YouTube speaking in documentaries about how “They got into this to do good but what happened went so wrong,” and it’s patronizing.

Things were fine when you saw your shares in the company skyrocketing, bought a home in San Francisco, spent your weeks drinking craft beer and playing ping-pong and shit while the IPOs soared and you plotted your very own Start-Up.

Now the social media space exists and it’s going to be harder to regulate and dismantle the shitty parts of it and these “brave people” aren’t offering much other than exposing its evils and starting more companies. I mean, these are the people—and many were well-intentioned—who fostered Q and scoffed at Government jobs because they were making more at or whatever the fuck and here we are.

And oh yeah, some of them were complicit in allowing foreign influence and influence overall in our elections.

Seriously, think about this: Isn’t it weird that every Government website looks like it was designed in 1997 and has the functionality of a GeoCities page… from 1997?

My point is that tech dictates our lives—especially as Instagram and YouTube dependent skaters—as much as our broken-ass Government and as skateboarders, this impacts skating on a local, Government, and cyber level. That’s a big fucking deal.

To drive this back to skating specifically, think about the platforms again. Of course they collect your data and you may or may not care about that but did you know how tightly it guides what you actually see? For example, because of ad buys and algorithms, there could be an amazing progressive DIY crew or some folx making super interesting skate content that you’ll never see because the Energy Drink videos etc. are being pushed to you. Andrew Murrell wrote a comprehensive piece about this you can read here.

Tech is on the ticket just as Trade is on the ticket—your boards, trucks, wheels, clothes, and tech are made in China.

Healthcare: People in Government are in court right now to regulate your healthcare and ultimately a woman’s right to choose. COVID-19…

Freedom of Speech: Protesting is becoming a “terrorist act” while White Supremacist groups are “very fine people.”

Police reform is needed and there’s rampant abuse of power.

Climate change is real and will not only impact all aspects of our lives, it probably makes it a bit harder to get… I dunno WOOD which skateboards are… yeah, made out of.

Skateboarding thrives through small business, how’s that being taken care of during this pandemic?

I’m not telling you how to vote, I’m asking you to think about your vote.

Vote and vote together as a community, not to your interests. You might not “get” anything out of choosing a candidate other than learning the process and staying engaged. More importantly, your vote can impact those that may not have the privileges you enjoy or aren’t even aware of and that’s how change begins.

Sure, voting for local officials could lead to a skate park or funding of a local program and that’s cool but also, it could lead to responsible, tech-savvy candidates understanding the impact of tech and social media and implementing some reform and regulation.

I’m not saying to get activated now so that skateboarding isn’t banned and the industry doesn’t crumble, I’m asking you to think about your local community—the people you skate with—and those who are marginalized, who have health care needs, who have been victimized by the police, who face the reality of not being able to have the things some of us are privy to, and while we all may enter a park or a spot as “equals” we sure as fuck don’t leave that place and go back to our lives as equals.

I’ve heard that skateboarding doesn’t see color or race or gender and while that’s nice, I also don’t buy it and on a larger scale, the United States does, so if you don’t, then use your vote and engage in the political process to symbolically project what you think skateboarding is.

Please register to vote if your deadline hasn’t passed, please encourage your friends to vote, please research your ballot, please vote safely, and please understand that this is a process that is so skewed and damaged that it’s going to take real effort, patience, and activism to change and that sure as hell doesn’t end on November 3, 2020.

Thank you.