Last Run Mentality
A mindset destined for injury
There’s a widely-held rule on the mountain: You never say, “Last run.” Some choose to say, “Two more” or “Second to last” and then collectively decide to quit before the last one. Others get more creative, “Two more, skip the second.” Justin told me he says, “Let’s get down and see how we feel.” I am not superstitious, so I do not abide by this silly rule.
At the end of February, nearing the end of a one-month stint out in Colorado, I decided I was done for the season, so I let the group know it was my last day. Not even 10 minutes later, I fell and dislocated both of my shoulders, tearing both labrums. Obviously, after an injury like that, you’re replaying it all in your head – thinking where it went wrong and how it could have been avoided.
The best answer I can come up with is that by breaking that silly rule and declaring it my last day, I failed to adequately respect the power of the mountain and paid the consequences. Nothing to do with superstitions, not even willing to call it bad luck, just the upshot of an ill-fated mindset shift.
Last night, I watched the phenomenal Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off on HBO. Perhaps the most enthralling part of this documentary is Tony Hawk’s apparently pedestrian athletic ability – he is not simply the LeBron James (physical freak) of skateboarding, despite being as prolific. Tony Hawk brought skateboarding into the mainstream with an unparalleled drive to push the boundaries.
There is a three-or-so minute clip in the doc from the 1999 X Games when Tony is attempting to land the first-ever 900 (2.5 spins). He falls about a dozen times, though each attempt inches closer to landing. But with each fall, his frustration visibly builds and his focus discernibly narrows. There is no doubt, to anyone really, that he is going to land this trick (he does). Later that year the iconic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game is released, your mother learns his name, and the rest is history.
Watching the repeated spills was a little hard on my shoulders, but what really captivated me was this literal representation of whatever the opposite of “last run mentality” is. Of course, each of his failed attempts resulted in a fall, the very thing I am trying to avoid, but his end result was resounding success.
For the sake of this metaphor, success for the best extreme sports athlete of all time is setting world records (nicely done), while success for me on a ski trip is not getting injured (better luck next time, nerd). Once I decided I had had enough and adopted that wretched last run mentality, my focus lapsed and injury followed.
The documentary ends with a few reflections on the physical toll skateboarding has had on the interviewees, some of Hawk’s starkest competitors. Steve Caballero acknowledges that maybe all that trauma is not smart, but they forget about it, because the people who are scared to push past the pain and suffering “never amount to more than a normal, safe life.”
Hearing that didn’t necessarily make my shoulders hurt less, but it made me feel better about the fact that I have actively chosen not to live a normal, safe life. I probably won’t ski next season – an idea my eye doctor was on board with, before recommending I take up disc golf. I said I was thinking I’d do a surfing trip that will end with two more waves, skip the second.
This read comes suggested by my current roommate, Lauren, who saw me watching hockey.
This is from 2011, but relevant of late, following some recent hockey fighting drama. It is also relevant for this edition, given the brain trauma of the skaters featured in the Tony Hawk doc. The CTE-related research that has come out in the last decade has made watching sports (namely football) a lot less enjoyable. I don’t have any hot takes on the matter, but it really makes me wonder which contact sports, if any, I’d let my kids play.
Last Friday, on my first night back in New York City, I went to see Bicep at Knockdown Center. Because it was a live set, which means little to the audience, it ended just after 2:00 AM. And because this is New York City, our night did not. A handful of us walked over to Elsewhere to dance to Sama’ Ambdullhadi well into the morning. This video of her Boiler Room set shows a side of Palestinian culture I had seen little of prior.
Even I’ve grown tired of listening to myself fan out on Palace and their unique brand of cheekiness. But this new collaboration with Calvin Klein that blends the streetwear brand’s skate team with the Pet Shop Boy and Willem Defoe and Joan Collins is so delightful in its ability to merge disparate elements and still make it feel distinctly Palace that I had to include it here.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a profession that does a better job of self-mythologizing than stand-up comedy. Listen to just about any Marc Maron or Joe Rogan and you’re likely to hear them waxing poetic about how “pure” the act of stand-up comedy is, owing to the proximity to the audience and the lack of anything but a microphone to connect and the tremendous challenge of getting people to laugh and the honor in bombing. While there’s certainly something to it, it can get overblown. However, I think that Jerrod Carmichael’s new special “Rothaniel” does capture that spirit. Some people, including some who work on this newsletter, would argue whether “Rothaniel” even qualifies as stand-up comedy. It’s a fair criticism, but I had the joy of watching the special without any preconceived notions (no spoilers here!) and was really blown away by the honesty and rawness of emotion it contained.