Pulp Factions: The SoCal Snowboard Magazine Crews

Hello, it’s me again, the snowboard industry imposter. If one more person asks me how my book is going, I’m getting a gun. The book is s l o w l y c o m i n g a l o n g.

I’m no longer in southern California, but I feel there is so much to tell you about my adventures in magazine land. First of all, if you’ve never been to Oceanside, CA, don’t bother. It’s whack. All the people who make Transworld Snowboarding? They’re miserable. Right about this time of year is when they’re at their most crazed too, because they haven’t been let out for six months or so. If they can make it until the end of the year, they get to leave for four months, all expenses paid by Transworld Publications. It’s a tough call, I have to admit. When they’re on the road, those kids are treated like royalty. They ride and party like crazy, and then come back to Oceanside and stare at each other for the next eight-month sentence. It’s a crazy life.

All of the magazines are in one big warehouse: Snowboarding and Skateboarding, the Business mags, Snowboard Life and Warp. It reminded me a lot of the MTV offices in New York. They’re plush, but it’s like they were designed by someone who was thinking, “I want young, I want brash…hell, let’s put in a foozeball table.” Kinda makes me feel self-conscious. One honcho has a bamboo office up on a platform above everyone else. It was cool to see how the editorial staff differed from mag to mag. The skate quys were so cool and core. The little Warp den was all dark and goofy. Snowboarding had the sort of money feel, and as I mentioned, those guys are going insane. They asked me about New York as though it was earth and they were on the moon, “You get some good food there, huh. And probably good movies too.”

I really liked everyone I met at Transworld SNOWboarding, I have to say. As the biggest, richest snowboarding magazine, TWS is an easy target for a lot of shit, but the staff is totally dedicated to snowboarding and they’ve had an undeniably strong hand in the sport’s formation . You can’t mess with those kinda facts .

When I got back to LA, I decdided to check out the other side. I went to see the Blunt/Big brother guys in El Segundo. Their offices are in this white noise wasteland near LAX, which seemed fitting for a magazine as deeply nihilistic as Blunt. Those guys are pretty punk, so punk they don’t really snowboard. When Blunt was given to the Big Brother staff to put out, most of them hadn’t been snowboarding. Skaters don’t seem to like admitting that they like snowboarding or they resist it for some kind of core reasons that I’m not cool enough to understand. But what’s cool is that it doesn’t even matter if they snowboard, because Blunt isn’t really about snowboarding as a sport. Maybe that’s why I can relate to it.

I love Blunt. It reminds me of all my friends in high school: guys who were too smart and cynical to go out with any of the girls that ever liked them, so they never went out with anyone. It’s the only magazine that addresses and accepts a very large reality about the snowboarding demographic. Boys love to get drunk and act dumb, and snowboarders have more time to do it than anyone else, except for maybe rock stars. Like Big Brother did for skateboarding before it, Blunt spins. It doesn’t matter what it spins on because it’s really about adolescence and masculine fear and being punk and being a geek. Yes it’s offensive, yeah it redefines bad taste, but it’s all true. Granted, there are ttwo ways of reading Blunt and when I actually think of the behavior that it probably engenders and the lengths to which I go to stay away from that kind of behavior, I feel obliged to qualify my praise. I’m just a white girl who laughs out loud when I read it and that’s because ultimately, Blunt points out male weakness more than anything else. I can’t imagine why I find male weakness so hysterical, but let’s save that for another day.

I think it’s easier for me as a woman to praise Blunt, like I’m allowed to laugh at this sexist stuff ’cause I’m a woman the same way black kids call each other nigga. Of course, this is totally fallacious reasoning so if you’re a man and you like Blunt, don’t be afraid that the forbidden pleasure will maim your sensitive ’90s man identity. Be proud that you are so comforable in your modern man identity that you can recognize and admit your forever adolescent dumb-ass self buried deep inside.

I think that’ll do for now. Flame away.

Tune in next column when Susanna Howe drops straight into the heart of the snow/skate debate: sure it’s cool, but is it art?