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Jeff Grosso: The life and death of skateboarding’s soul

Jeff Grosso’s first skateboard wasn’t much. It was a hand-me-down miniature-sized banana board he got from his mom’s boss when he was 8 years old. Even for 1977, it was antiquated, with rickety old clay wheels and worn-out bearings. Grosso barely knew how to stand on the thing, struggling to keep his balance without toppling to the ground.

But for a curious boy whose childhood home was next to a steep hill, there was an instant connection. He would sit on his back or lie flat on his stomach and let gravity take over. Every time he bombed down the street, he fell more in love with the feeling.

“Initially, it was the rush of going down a hill, and the wind in your hair,” Grosso once said. “Poetic nonsense.”

The skateboarding world looks much different now than it did then. Its ever-increasing popularity is pulling the fundamentally subversive sport into the mainstream. Formerly relegated to back alleys and sparse concrete parks, it is now set to debut on the Olympic stage during this summer’s Tokyo Games.

But somewhere at its core, the lust for that poetic nonsense remains.

No one understood it quite like Grosso… read more >

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