Pulp Factions: The SoCal Snowboard Magazine
by Susanna Howe
(December 17, 1996)
Hello, it's me again, the snowboard industry imposter. If one more person
asks me how my book is going, I'm getting a gun. The book is s l o w l y
c o m i n g a l o n g.
I'm no longer in southern California, but I feel there is so much to tell
you about my adventures in magazine land. First of all, if you've never been
to Oceanside, CA, don't bother. It's whack. All the people who make Transworld
Snowboarding? They're miserable. Right about this time of year is when they're
at their most crazed too, because they haven't been let out for six months
or so. If they can make it until the end of the year, they get to leave for
four months, all expenses paid by Transworld Publications. It's a tough call,
I have to admit. When they're on the road, those kids are treated like royalty.
They ride and party like crazy, and then come back to Oceanside and stare
at each other for the next eight-month sentence. It's a crazy life.
All of the magazines are in one big warehouse: Snowboarding and Skateboarding,
the Business mags, Snowboard Life and Warp. It reminded me a lot of the MTV
offices in New York. They're plush, but it's like they were designed by someone
who was thinking, "I want young, I want brash...hell, let's put in a foozeball
table." Kinda makes me feel self-conscious. One honcho has a bamboo office
up on a platform above everyone else. It was cool to see how the editorial
staff differed from mag to mag. The skate quys were so cool and core. The
little Warp den was all dark and goofy. Snowboarding had the sort of money
feel, and as I mentioned, those guys are going insane. They asked me about
New York as though it was earth and they were on the moon, "You get some
good food there, huh. And probably good movies too."
I really liked everyone I met at Transworld SNOWboarding, I have to say.
As the biggest, richest snowboarding magazine, TWS is an easy target for
a lot of shit, but the staff is totally dedicated to snowboarding <kiss
kiss> and they've had an undeniably strong hand in the sport's formation
<stroke stroke>. You can't mess with those kinda facts <helloo,
When I got back to LA, I decdided to check out the other side. I went to
see the Blunt/Big brother guys in El Segundo. Their offices are in this white
noise wasteland near LAX, which seemed fitting for a magazine as deeply
nihilistic as Blunt. Those guys are pretty punk, so punk they don't really
snowboard. When Blunt was given to the Big Brother staff to put out, most
of them hadn't been snowboarding. Skaters don't seem to like admitting that
they like snowboarding or they resist it for some kind of core reasons that
I'm not cool enough to understand. But what's cool is that it doesn't even
matter if they snowboard, because Blunt isn't really about snowboarding as
a sport. Maybe that's why I can relate to it.
I love Blunt. It reminds me of all my friends in high school: guys who were
too smart and cynical to go out with any of the girls that ever liked them,
so they never went out with anyone. It's the only magazine that addresses
and accepts a very large reality about the snowboarding demographic. Boys
love to get drunk and act dumb, and snowboarders have more time to do it
than anyone else, except for maybe rock stars. Like Big Brother did for
skateboarding before it, Blunt spins. It doesn't matter what it spins on
because it's really about adolescence and masculine fear and being punk and
being a geek. Yes it's offensive, yeah it redefines bad taste, but it's all
true. Granted, there are two ways of reading Blunt and when I actually think
of the behavior that it probably engenders and the lengths to which I go
to stay away from that kind of behavior, I feel obliged to qualify my praise.
I'm just a white girl who laughs out loud when I read it and that's because
ultimately, Blunt points out male weakness more than anything else. I can't
imagine why I find male weakness so hysterical, but let's save that for another
I think it's easier for me as a woman to praise Blunt, like I'm allowed to
laugh at this sexist stuff 'cause I'm a woman the same way black kids call
each other nigga. Of course, this is totally fallacious reasoning so if you're
a man and you like Blunt, don't be afraid that the forbidden pleasure will
maim your sensitive '90s man identity. Be proud that you are so comforable
in your modern man identity that you can recognize and admit your forever
adolescent dumb-ass self buried deep inside.
I think that'll do for now. Flame away.
Tune in next column when Susanna Howe drops straight into the heart of the
snow/skate debate: sure it's cool, but is it art?
Another New York
Writer Seeking Snowboarding's Soul (11-27-96)