King of NY

King of NY Charlie OckmoreAlbum Artwork by Hunter Jenkins Soundscape and Words by Charlie Ockmore

Although born in California, Mark Gonzales started taking trips to New York City in the mid 80’s. A coast to coast pilgrimage, he left his sparse Californian comfort zone to face the cluttered and rugged American east.  I feel like Mark had unknowingly been craving the streets of New York and that they charged him with inspiration.The Gonz took to the city with a fresh-faced naivety, like they were his own comic strip, upon which he discoveredand harnessed his artistic identity. This was how he began his reign as king of NY.

Mark took skateboarding into a broader artistic context with a humble approach to overcoming all that exists in the physical plain.  Using the skateboard as a spiritual vehicle (or weapon), he elevates himself through a divine channel of movement, fending off stagnation as if it were a tangible enemy.  Watching Mark skateboard, it’s clear that he focuses not so much on the technicality of footwork as on the poetry he creates by transcending our city-built limitations. The spiky scenery of NYC rises and falls, and forces him to keep moving over the dirty, grey sludge that threatens to consume him.

When I was sixteen I noticed an almost heartbreaking sincerity and dignity in the tone of Mark’s voice. In the many clips I found of him speaking amidst sounds of the heaving city and rolling, clattering skateboards, I heardhumble mutterings and gentle observations of his timespent gliding over his land. I began hoarding ripped YouTube videos and using the sounds to piece together asmall tribute to the king himself. Almost three years later I unearthed this tape and realised that against the soft backdrop of my old rattling guitar and roughly chopped breaks, the recorded sound of Mark’s time in New York is an eternal safety rope for those who feel unable to breathe in an urban sprawl.

‘Be not afraid of moving slowly. Be afraid of standing still.’
Chinese proverb

Sometimes, Mark will seemingly inch down a street, catching his feet and narrowly avoiding traffic, slowly creeping through the dark, rushing metropolis. We seehim slip away and escape with just enough grace totranslate an infinite moment of bliss, omnipresent on the fringe of the void zone. We see the monster of NYlurching for his ankles relentlessly, desperate to drag him down with the rest of us. But the king keeps moving.

 Long live the King

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