KIDS IN EUROPE AREN'T ANY WORSE THAN CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES, but there is definitely a dickhead element among many in the lower-income brackets. I use the word dickhead not because it's the best expletive I can come up with, but because Brian Sumner once told me that his childhood consisted largely of running around the streets "being a dickhead"--smashing shit, scaring people, and making a mess. Sumner should know. He's from Liverpool, England, and has the same accent as the Beatles. The way he explained it, being a dickhead is just the thing to do when you're a kid. Everyone except mama's boys locked upstairs practicing their flutes are expected to roam the streets and look for trouble. Though such boys bring to mind Dickensian ragamuffins replete with floppy hats and short pants made from potato sacks, the modern Euro-dickhead wears white track-pants and weird shirts, many with mock turtle necks and extraneous panels and zippers. Even more shocking, the toughest among them tuck their wind pants into their socks in a one-pant-leg-up type gesture of hardness. Regardless of current fashion, the sticky dirt on the hands and around the mouth area remains a constant as does the dickheads' purpose: petty theft.
AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN BARCELONA, the sketchy kids who live in the apartments adjacent to the plaza pretty much mess with people all day long. Lord knows if they go to school, but I can't imagine geometry class being anywhere near as fun as their favorite activity--kicking a soccer ball into people as hard as they can. No one was above being on the receiving end of this game; families, elderly women, mothers with infants...WHAMM! The kids would boot that ball as hard as they could into the lot of them! Aside from the pleasure of bringing pain to others, they would then gather around the disoriented victims and grab whatever they could out of, their bags and pockets. A couple of times I saw a kid empty cash out of no less than five wallets, dumping the unwanted photos and credit cards on the ground. Minutes later you'd see them, smiling, jamming ice cream and candy into their mouths with filthy hands.
So this was the scene when I arrived at MACBA with James Craig, Jamie Thomas, Ryan Bobier, Jon Allie, Lee Dupont, Anthony Claraval and Baby Ice. A couple of dudes were trying to film lines while a few of us watched from the side. I was sitting by Lee on an out-of-the-way ledge when all of a sudden five or six 10-to-15-year-old girls (actually it was hard to gauge their ages as their choice in eye make-up placed them somewhere between 11 and 65) practically sat down in my lap. Though there was no shortage of seats, these gals were positioned hip to hip around me.
"I believe you're what's known as the mark," Lee told me.
He was right.
"If one of them asks me to dance, watch my stuff," I told him. I got up and moved myself and my camera bags to another spot.
A few minutes later, when Lee and I went to get a drink, the same thing happened to Bobier, though it was six dudes that put on the squeeze play. Just as one dirty paw was reaching into his bag, another kid snatched his board and ran off with it. Luckily a local skater got the board back, but upon hearing what had happened, Lee was livid.
ALTHOUGH IT'S PRETTY POINTLESS to try and get some sort of apology or explanation out of a group of dickhead 13-year-olds who speak a different language, Lee is a very proud man and extremely protective of his team riders. Next thing you know he was taking a swing at one of them.
Things calmed down for a few minutes until the inevitable happened and the dickheads went and got the baddest guy they had--in this case, a Moroccan gentleman with scars all over his face, a single diagonally-cracked fang-like front tooth and, you guessed it, white track pants tucked into tube socks. Though I've no doubt Lee could've taken this dude, you've got the think that a guy with only 1/2 a tooth maybe doesn't have much left to lose. Not to mention getting stabbed by a Moroccan in a ridiculous outfit isn't the best way to end your first trip to Europe. The dude screamed in Spanish and Arabic for a little while, then the local skaters smoothed it over and we got the heck out of there.
ANOTHER TRIP TO BARCELONA, the jewel of European skateboarding and as familiar to skateboard magazine readers as their local curb. It seems Barcelona is reaching its saturation point, with not only a steady stream of Americans constantly visiting, but a considerable European contingency going there as well. We met groups of skaters from Sweden, Finland, and Holland, who had all moved to Barcelona for skating. Local tour-guide Alex Casteneda told us that a recent Puzzle video contained 90-percent footage from Barcelona. It's not hard to see why. Barcelona is great for skating, with many bust-free spots and lots of skateable architecture. But with more skaters, more spots become unskateable and more neighbors start to complain. We got the cops called on us twice and got in screaming matches with locals at spots that I had no trouble with when I was there a year earlier.