A film about skateboarding and art by Christian Roth/MOB Skateboards (2003) featuring Eli Morgan Gessner, Michael Leon, Dave the Chimp, Don Pendleton, The London Police, Dalek, Vincent Gootzen and Nago.
I've uploaded a better version of my documentary "The Mobernbists" to the MOB Vimeo Account. I made this documenatry as part of our "MOB Steady" skateboard video which was originally released on DVD in 2003. I was motivated to make the film because skateboarding has always meant more to me than just tricks and flips. To me - and all of the people I interviewed for the film - skateboarding has been "a blank canvas", to quote Eli Gessner, for all sorts of creative endeavors which went way beyond the physical act of skateboarding.
Watching this movie now - 12 years later - it seems almost odd that the undertone in most of the interviews is that even back in 2003 skateboarding seemed to have lost that "special feeling" and I catch myself thinking "Man, just look at it now! Who would have thought it would turn out to be what it is today." It's hard not to look back in teary-eyed nostalgia for almost anybody who has been idealistic about this lifestyle and cherished it's culture and free-flowing form - because that's the easiest way to deal with the way skateboarding has developed in the past 20 years - from an almost completely closed-off subculture into a million-dollar business which is now more than often polished for easy consumption and used to sell anything from soft-drinks to SUVs.
Lately though I have adjusted my looking back and instead of hollering about what a shape- and tasteless sponge skateboarding can be today, I consider myself lucky I found skateboarding when I did - almost 30 years ago. I'm happy to have met all the wonderful people which populated this subculture and made it a very special place of complete creative freedom during my youth and adolesence. A scene and activity which inspired and shaped my personality and character into what I am today. To my mind we, who started skateboarding in the 80's, experienced skateboarding during it's youth entering into adolescence - the best years, as they say. We, in our 40's today, were the last generation to truly experience any kind of real subculture, be it skateboarding or music, before the rise of the internet globalized not only markets but also tore down the gates of almost everything which was once lay hidden and guarded in the shadows of the popular mainstream. We, my friends, are indeed the Lucky Ones - and we shouldn't feel grumpy looking at the way skateboarding presents itself nowadays. We should be thankful for the times we had when we had them. For the uncensored fun, the analog friendship and for the Zines and VHS tapes we shared and the fact that this piece of plywood shaped our personalities and characters as it did - regardeless of how it sometimes chooses to present itself today.
"The Mobernists" starts with a quote by Walther Pater from 1873 which states "For art comes to you proposing to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments' sake." If you substitude the word "art" with the word "skateboarding" you'll understand best what I'm trying to say.
So, here it is: Thank you to all the people I have met along the way on my four-wheeled ride through life - and thank you to all of the people to whom skateboarding is a state of mind rather than an extreme activity and who have populated and still populate what we call the core of the skateboarding scene. I can't remember a life outside of that scene - and I don't think I have missed out on anything - on the contrary: looking around, looking at the "normal people", I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't had that "blank canvas".
Enjoy your moments as they pass - and keep kicking tail!