We’re honored here at NYSB to have an exclusive op-ed series by NYC skateboarding pioneer Rodney Smith. Rodney goes back decades as an OG skateboarder being one of the founders of SHUT and Zoo York. Read below to better understand what Rodney means by “Awake & Venture” as a seasoned veteran of the industry and how skateboarders are like wizards.

Op-Ed by Rodney Smith:

I’d like to take time out and say Thank You. Thank you skateboarders of the world for being an example to all humans on how to be truly free in a world of restrictions. You’ve directly and indirectly been responsible for expanding millions of minds just by riding your skateboards, living life to the fullest and having fun. By example, and example alone, you’ve affected people of all size, age, color and creed to subconsciously contemplate their place here on earth. Those who are aware of, or have ever seen skateboarding, even for just a brief moment during their daily routine, will forever carry the knowledge of a form of “physical human magic”.

While it may seem an overly dramatic opinion, to any onlooker it defies logic that while attempting a trick on a handrail you only just narrowly escape severe injury; it scares and confuses them, while messing with their conditioned understanding as to how these skate feats are even possible. Existing on polar opposites of the human understanding of normalcy is a seemingly twisted perspective of what’s physically possible: while it’s accepted that athletes fall, skaters fall on concrete continuously, dramatically increasing the potential for serious injury in a scenario that’s unfathomable to everyday folk. Things that stuntmen do for a living, most see as complete insanity. And yet…


San Francisco professional skateboarder Tony Manfre and I once had a conversation concerning what it is about the mind of the skater that avails them the ability to perform crazy feats that blow the minds of average people. I kicked the conversation off with the view of an elevated yet deep-seated level of focus needed to disregard the mind control that restrains most people with fear of hurting themselves. However, once a skater gets a real taste skateboarding they’ll go to great lengths to do it again and again. In many ways the old saying “If you fall then you must get up” is a fundamental of skateboarding. Tony Manfre then retorted, “Is it that we’re like wizards?” My reply, “Yep, that sounds about right”.

Which brings us back to magic. In my opinion, describing amazing feats that humans perform can really be summed up as being a form of human magic. I mean, come on now… can any average person give me a definitive answer as to how anyone in there right mind would subject themselves to such abuse (a.k.a. bliss), all to pull off a dangerous skate trick? And in most cases, for no reward other than to please themselves and entertain friends. The level of concentration needed to bring oneself to this has to run deep, as well as overthrow common logic in order for it to make sense. This kind of depth can only come from an ancient human and very natural non-conformist place in the brain. A part of the brain that, let’s say, is dormant in the average person and alive and well in others.

By now you may be asking yourself where I’m heading with this. Well, I’m trying to inform all skaters and like-minded thinkers of some basic facts – facts that reconsider the act of skateboarding with a humanitarian obligation. Through skateboarding, we skaters demonstrate a form of exceptional human ability. Average people, walking around with a form of amnesia, perceive themselves and others as having defined limits or lacking the ability to expand our lives and grow into the incredible beings we are supposed to be; to not await instruction on every freakin’ thing, as if completely brainwashed. Take note, skaters. My opinions are valid only to those who can feel what I’m saying. If you don’t get it, you wont’ be insulted or take it personally when I say: Get off your laurels, stop basking in my blowing-smoke-up-your-ass-rant-fest and start influencing others with these incredible abilities! Abilities we possess to capture the attention of any and every human walking this planet. Everyone knows with ability comes responsibility. Needless to say, many have failed time and time again, being self-duped and allowing our assumed leaders and our own personal egos to steer us in a self-serving direction, only causing ourselves and others to fall short of what life’s truth really holds for us. It’s been said that we are living proof of a “sheeple” society that needs cluing-in to what we’re really supposed to be doing, which is to take personal responsibility for ourselves first, then assist others. As magic-making skaters you are already looked at as either a crazy person or an amazing one, which is to straddle the line between insanity and brilliance, akin to some of the greatest minds such as Einstein and Tesla. I can tell you, I know of plenty of skaters to which this applies, and you might well be one of them.


All I ask of you is to take these abilities and attempt to snap people out of their amnesia to discover where the real truth lies. Free yourselves and help others free themselves from the bind of the manipulated mind. Higher levels of concentration, like that unconsciously used when skateboarding, is an example of a free minded, freethinking freedom. In fact, it’s the only form of freedom we personally have access to whenever we want. And yet, this doesn’t apply to our governed lives.


So, I’ll conclude with the two words upon which Venture Trucks was founded: AWAKE / VENTURE . Ingeniously meaning “Wake Up and Move Forward”, it’s a cue to stop chasing your tail, to shift gears, to progress, to help others and be free NOW before there is no return.

Sincerely yours,
Rodney “Just My Opinion” Smith