PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO BY JOEY GALLAGHER WORDS BY TED BARROW
“There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest.”—Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
To me, to lurk was always a mixture of the menacing and the somber. It was to watch, quietly on the periphery with little attachment to the spectacle at the center. It was ideal, out of the spotlight where the fun shit was, without the pressure to perform. And so it seems appropriate that a skateboard video franchise born in the scene of New York post 9/11 would boast the eponymous title.
I moved to New York in February of 2002, having spent less than 10 days in the city a year and a half before. That summer before, people met up at Supreme, people still sessioned the banks, and the World Trade Center was benches and a long manual pad. It was Diesel Jeans, Vita Shoes, Aesthetics Apparel and Seaport with metal edges. I was lucky enough to tag along with a group of local skaters and lurked while they skated everything from bump to bars, benches, 11 stairs, and handrails. New York was everything it had been hyped up to be.
A year later, and some winter months, I came back to that city. Supreme was hostile (to me), Seaport lost its metal edge, and the benches and long manual pad and the buildings that they stood sentinel in front of were a stench of raw earth and smoldering remains, a gash. It was cold, windy, and the ice-cold streets were covered in salt. Shit sucked.
And so I lurked at Tompkins, in what seemed like the most out of the way place I could find. And there were other lurkers, some I recognized, some I would come to know very well. And by Spring, shit was hot, and there were metal-edged boxes, flatbars, and a steady stream of interesting people taking that shit very seriously. It was high energy, breaking off of the TF to skate midtown and then bombing back down wide oily avenues, back to Tompkins to drag the flatbar under the streetlight to skate it some more after dark.
But always, it seemed like this couldn’t possibly be where the heart of the action was. It seemed funny, absurd, to be spending this much time at Tompkins when there was a whole skateable city surrounding us. But if you asked me at the time, I who knew so precious little about how skating and life in New York had been like before, it seemed like everyone needed to be skating on the periphery for a while. We all needed to lurk.
When the first video came out, I didn’t even know that I had filmed for it. A girl came up to me and told me she saw me in a video, and that I was wearing a helmet. I was? Shit. To my chagrin, I was also wearing a trucker hat. And, were it not for someone lurking on me while I was skating, I would not have remembered either of those things, for better or for worse.
The second video was a bit more of a concerted effort. We had missions, but they were never that serious. We just knew that we were making a video, and that was that. I managed to film a whole part outside of Tompkins, in fact we all did. Probably none of us were happy with the way it came out at the time, but I for one am grateful that it did when it did. Life lurks at the periphery patiently, but soon enough it has to take center stage.
To lurk is to luxuriate in transgression. In simple terms, it is to give a shit where nobody else does. Skateboarding is most fun in these places where it shouldn’t be, where none of us should be, and god bless it for that. God bless us all.