Smashing

Todd and I hang out a lot, which breeds a sort of familiarity that leads to every phrase being shortened as much as possible. For example, if one’s laptop batteries were very low, the word “critbatts” might be invoked. So when we found ourselves standing outside of the VIP area of the X Games in LA, and Todd said, “Dude, let’s just smash it”, I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gaijin Smash.

The Gaijin Smash is a term used to describe a certain way of operating as a foreigner in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and sometimes nervous around foreigners (Gaijin), so as a foreigner you tend to get your way. I think the phrase came about from some guy smashing his way through the subway barriers without paying, and not being stopped. Todd and I mostly used it to ride our hilarious fold-up bikes like maniacs.

Anyway, back to the X-Games. Thanks to my brother and his good friend Chase Hawk, Todd and I had passes to this year’s event in LA. But our passes were weird: they were only meant to give us access to the skate park section of the course, because Chase was only riding the park. But we also had friends competing in the street course, so we found ourselves standing outside the entrance to the VIP area of the street course, wanting to watch them.

“Dude, let’s just smash it.”

We walked up to the security guard.

“Sorry, you aren’t allowed in here.”

“Yes we are. We have industry guest passes.”

“Sorry, I was told to only let in yellow and red badges.”

“Oh, I know. it’s so complicated with so many badges this year. Look, our friend is about to compete right now and we came down from San Francisco just to see him. We’re supposed to be up there and we don’t want to miss our friend’s run.”

“Oh, okay.”

A bit of confidence in an unclear situation goes a long way. When the finals were over, we also casually climbed over the fence and walked onto the course to congratulate our friends. No one said anything. I hesitated before climbing over, only because I was scared to break a rule, and Todd reminded me, “Well, now you HAVE to do it.” The last time he said that to me was when I was considering climbing through the window of a moving vehicle to surf or the roof of our car as we crossed the Bridge of the Americas in Panama.

Back when we had our 40′ school bus, we would pretty frequently get pulled over by the police. The bus was in a legal grey area. We were supposed to have removed the flashing lights, it had only one seatbelt for the driver, and no one was 100% sure whether or not we were legally allowed to drive it. Police would pull us over and we would confidently assert that we were legally allowed to drive it because it had a kitchen area in it, which made it technically an RV. This was based on a real law, but we couldn’t actually figure out the legality of driving the bus. The officer, not wanting to appear ignorant of bus laws, would mutter something like, “Oh yes, that’s right,” and let us go.

I’m a pretty strong believer that following rules for the sake of following rules is a bad idea, and that thinking for yourself is a better idea. We WERE supposed to be in the street course; we had friends competing there and if they had realized our passes wouldn’t allow us there, they would have fixed the situation. The VIP section was pretty much empty, so no one’s spot was being taken by us being there. Same with walking on the course at the end; doing so didn’t infringe on anyone.

I have a pretty strict no-lying policy, but the one time I break it is when confronting authority figures who are enforcing rules they don’t have the authority to negotiate. On the rare occasions that police knock on my RV door, I might fudge my travel schedule to make it look like I’m just passing through. If they had the authority to allow me to stay, I’d be honest and tell them that I loved SF and that I’m staying there and doing my best to be a good neighbor by picking up trash and such. Same with the X-Games security guard: if he realized we weren’t technically allowed there with our passes, he might worry about his job if he let us through. By deceiving him we set ourselves up to take the blame if someone decides we’re somewhere we shouldn’t be, and no one is slighted in the process.

Anyway, the point is this: I believe that thinking for yourself is the right thing to do, even when you’re confronted with bureaucratic rules. Do what you want as long as it’s morally sound, and don’t do things that go against your morals, even if they ARE legal. 

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To give credit where it’s due, my good friend Elliot first came up with the phrase “critbatts”. I love it.

Congratulations to Chase Hawk, Aaron Ross, and Sean Sexton for all making it into the top 10 in their events!

We actually DID get caught by the police for the car surfing thing in Panama. They made us pay a $20 bribe, but thought that the whole thing was hilarious.

Small meat update: there are almost NO restaurants that serve naturally raised meats. Being a healthy carnivore at restaurants is roughly the same as being a strict vegan.

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