Speaking of influences….
I suppose this one’s kind of a no-brainer since I did name my site after the guy. A little obvious, I suppose, but when the only other option is omission, you gotta do what you gotta do. The problem here is that when I try to summarize into words why Blender remains so special not only to me but an entire generation, long after he opted to fade into the background, I honestly couldn’t tell you.
Genius, for sure, but that’s too easy. An elementary observation like that just won’t suffice. Not for this guy. It’s larger than that… more abstract. In the most admittedly-vague terms, Blender is Blender. A rare breed of creature that is indeed unlike any other. It’s this remarkable sense of individuality he operates within that seems to be the source of endless fascination. The way you can see his hand in whatever medium he decides to work in. This unique way he carries himself that has yielded a thousand stories and a million quotables. Everything he seems to do just exudes a pure Neil-ness. And that’s not an easy task. For example, back when skulls were big business, only Blender could go on coffee break and come back with a masterpiece. Sorry Corey O’Brien. And honestly, who else could forever alter the comfort Hugh “Bod” Boyle once took for granted whenever anybody uttered his name.
It’s like Neil was clued into something about skateboarding we’ll never know. An entirely different side that nobody else is even privy to. And he wasn’t willing to share. Why would he? He was obviously having much more fun than we were. His ads often ran like taunting invitations to a place we could never experience. Cooking ramps in his house. Wrestling Claar outside a toy store. Telling the announcer to shut-up mid-run before hopping off his board to spray paint a wall… The tricks he could come up with were only overshadowed by the names he gave them. There will never be another Blender. It was only fitting that he so often skated a replica of the moon.
I’ve never met Blender. Not face-to-face. We’ve exchanged a few emails and I’ve begged and pleaded for an interview a couple of times but that’s it. So this very well could be a romanticized notion of Neil… but at least for me, it’s true. And like Mark said with Jessee, I’ve really never tried to emulate him in any fashion… other than that one time I purchased a Timberwolves t-shirt. (Buying Dinosaur Jr. records doesn’t count.)
You just can’t imitate dudes like this… it just doesn’t work. So go ahead and take that shirt sleeve off your head.
As corny as it sounds, Neil represents to me the idea that anything is possible and everything is open to interpretation. There’s no set way of doing things and that often those scenic routes into the unorthodox are where the real treasures can be found. Stop being so damn serious all the time. Especially in skateboarding with it’s ever-growing set of social faux-pas and conservative tisk-tisks. It’s miserable and it’s dumb… which is why Louie Barletta’s had my vote for SOTY the last 5 years running.
I’m glad to see the Wheel is still Heated. It’s comforting to know that he’s still out there, intermingling with our world and active in all his pursuits. Permenantly in his own personal Aggro Zone. Just being Neil.