Keenan Milton R.I.P. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, styles of all time.

Keenan Milton R.I.P.

I quit one of my favorite passions, skateboarding, just before summer this year. I wasn’t really that good at it (I had about four or five tricks under my belt for sure, anything else was pure luck) but I loved it. It was something about it that just kept me going. Something got me off the ground no matter how many times I fell and something willed me to buy another board after I broke one. My relationship with skateboarding has been a rocky one for sure but through it all, I’m back ready to learn again.

I was first introduced to skateboarding by my friend, Daniel, around the time I was in 9th grade. He had an old, tarnished Flip board that he would flip around in his driveway and whenever I would go over his house, I would get on and give it a go. I wasn’t very good of course but Daniel pushed me to take it up. As time went by and I started trying to learn how to ollie on Daniel’s board I became more receptive to the idea of trying to really learn how to skate. Another factor that pushed me toward learning to skate was my growing interest in Nike SB. I was a full-blown sneakerhead by my freshman year in high school and my main infatuation in sneakers was these Nike SBs. In learning about the Nike SB shoes, I was introduced to the actual skate culture behind the brand like the Nike SB team riders and their other sponsorships. So, I kept pushing the old tattered Flip board around at Daniel’s house not knowing if I should go buy a board and try to discover how to skate myself until one day, out of curiosity, I downloaded the Nike SB promo video, “On Tap” and watched it. In retrospect, the video wasn’t anything too spectacular, but it was the first ever skate video I had watched and I was blown away. Daniel Shimizu’s effortless lanky style impressed me immensely, Reese Forbes’ silly pop had me in awe, Danny Supa formally introduced me to varial heels and tre flips and P-Rod hit trick after trick like a true technician. “On Tap” introduced me to things that I didn’t know or think were capable on a skateboard. I was thoroughly inspired after watching “On Tap” and a couple days later I asked my dad for a board.

I started off on a generic blank just to see if I would stick with it and if I did, I would upgrade equipment later. I was outside everyday on my new board, which was a 7.5” blue and white checkerboard deck on Indy’s and blank wheels. I would practice pushing and ollieing in front of my house until the sun went down that summer, falling often. Once I started getting some good pop under my ollies, I tried rolling ollies. Unfortunately, I first tried rolling ollies down a steep hill at the end of my driveway. Some of the hardest slams in my life happened at the end of my driveway and after weeks of work, I finally started landing some respectable rolling ollies. It was time for a real board. By this time I had already started immersing my self in skateboarding customs. I acquired a subscription to Transworld Skateboarding magazine and studied it day and night. I couldn’t wait until the new issue would come every month because I learned so much in every issue. I would just flip through, find skaters, type their names into youtube, and just watch their footage. One of the pivotal scenes of skateboarding footage I saw early on was Jason Dill’s part in the 2000 Alien Workshop video “Photosynthesis”. The whole video was masterfully shot but something about Dill’s free flowing skating charmed me. My first “real” board was an Alien Workshop consequently.

So, I kept pushing and kept learning. I learned all the brands, all the skaters, old and new, and I started progressing in my skating albeit slowly. I sided with the purists in skateboarding, sitting in favor for support of local shops, not buying blank boards, and “freedom of skate”. I feel in love with Stereo Skateboards and Jason Lee became my favorite all time skater. Among my other favorites were Karl Watson, Corey Duffel, Benny Fairfax, Kenny Anderson, Daniel Shimizu, Eric Koston, Marc Johnson and many more. I studied the classics of Skate film like Blind’s “Video Days”, H-Street’s “Hokus Pokus” and Girl’s “Mouse”. The bar was constantly being pushed as well. I loved skateboarding’s family culture that caused this progression. Every random skater I’ve met has been nonchalant, calm, and cultured. Gaps in ability rarely ever cause a problem at a session. It was all about helping each other progress. Skateboarding may seem to have an element of showmanship and “one-up-ness” but in actuality, skaters want to see fellow skaters push the bar. Basically, it was a culture of “we don’t hate, we congratulate” which in return fueled development.

Skateboarding started to influence my life more and more. For instance, Ali Boulala’s part in Flip’s video, “Sorry”, got me into punk rock music and made me want to be a punk rocker. Corey Duffel’s part in Foundation’s, “That’s Life” video got me into the punk culture even more. I bought skinny jeans and Minor Threat t-shirts after seeing the Duffel part but from that point on I just enjoyed the music and fell off of the hardcore garb. The point is that these skateboarders became my new role models. They were the people I looked up to and imitated. I realized that Skateboarding is more than a bunch of sponsors and videos and that it is an artistic movement. Some of the world’s best photography and filmmaking can be found in the world of skateboarding and of course some of the world’s best pure art can be found on decks and t-shirts at your local skate shop.

I was becoming more and more absorbed into the skate world but my actual skating had hit a wall. I was in an epic rut. Sure tricks started to slip out my grasp and simple things seemed to get harder. I had hit a developmental roadblock that I couldn’t seem to get around. To make matters worse, I would go out to skate and see skaters damn near half my age doing things effortlessly that I could barely do. I was frustrated and contemplating giving up. I put it off and off, trying to keep fighting my frustration, but I finally gave in. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with young kids blowing up my spots. On top of that, all my friends started to quit skating. So, one day I softly placed my board in the back of my closet and called it quits. I occasionally checked on the skate world while I was in retirement, keeping track of skaters changing teams and new, emerging products until I eventually left the world altogether. Then one day, while I’m at college, months after I quit, my buddy and I are walking to the dining hall for dinner. We see some fellow students skating in a tennis court and we go over to talk to them. My buddy down right kills it right there on the spot. Kickflip, heelflips, FS and BS shove-its, FS flips, I mean a whole bag of tricks. What was even wilder was that he, like I, had quit skating as well. He inspired me right there to pick it back up, to start pushing again. We both were going to start skating again. In a moment, it all came back to me. All the fun times, crazy tricks, perfect spots, sketchy hills and cool people I’ve met through skateboarding just flashed through my mind. I was officially back in the skating mindset.

So, here I am, ready to learn all over again. I haven’t skated in months so I’m going to have to work hard to quickly re-learn the basics but it’s going to be worth it. What I learned from this is something special though. Never stop rolling. Stay with something that you love, through thick and thin because you’re probably going to come back to it one day in the future and who knows how it’s going to treat you after all that away time. I don’t care what it is: math homework, an English paper, a girl/boy you really like, a car you really want, an audition you want to do well on, whatever. Keep pushing and keep rolling. Don’t quit.