In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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As Strobeck sees it, that journey from the Bronx to Manhattan is captured symbolically in the trick that put Jones on the cover of Thrasher: an ollie over an entrance to the 6 train at the 33rd Street station. This subway entrance is a mind-boggling thing to leap over: The gap starts in an office building’s elevated plaza, and from there, you have to clear a thigh-high guardrail, then a six-foot-wide staircase plunging down into the street, with a spike-tipped fence on the other end. But the ollie itself was just a fraction of the challenge. Midtown was swarming with people whenever they went to film.
One thing Jones has that a lot of pro skaters don’t is a bunch of hardheaded friends who are willing to bring city life to a halt for him. The day he finally landed it, on his third visit, he went to the spot with 10 of his buddies, most of whom didn’t skate. They positioned themselves all around the subway entrance to help, in Strobeck’s words, ‘‘facilitate’’—or the exact opposite, depending on your perspective. One stood in the stairwell to keep unwitting straphangers from taking a board to the skull, one stood up top to keep people from going down the stairs, some dealt with people in the plaza above, another worked as a spotter to tell Jones when the coast was clear. Even passers-by stopped to help.
To ollie over something this massive is like doing a parabolic calculus problem with your body while also attempting suicide, but it involves a set of motions Jones knows like second nature: Snap the tail and leap, dragging the board as high as you can with your front foot, tucking your knees into your body — on the Thrasher cover, Jones’s are practically touching his shoulders—then hope for the best. When Jones finally landed it, he did so with his front wheels in the street and his rear wheels up on the sidewalk, one last screw-you from New York, but he rode away. He got a message on Instagram from someone who worked in a building high above the plaza. She told him that people in the office had lined up at the windows to watch. When he landed it, the whole place erupted in cheers.
Editor Paul Reyes
Excerpt from “King of Pop” in the New York Times
Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne.
But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it because they’d never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it.
Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s when the moonlight and champagne show up: “You have to be in tune with your body, and know when you can push it and when to back off,” Ann would explain. You have to listen closely to the south of your own breathing; be aware of how much sweat is beading on your back; make sure to treat yourself to cool water and a salty snack and ask yourself, honestly and often, exactly how you feel. What could be more sensual than paying exquisite attention to your own body? Sensual counted as romantic, right?
Editorial Intern Annie Yanofsky
Excerpt from Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your doorsteps with our dust, who break your barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We, the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians.
Editorial Intern Emily Sumlin
Excerpt from Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera