Thursday, December 16, 2010

Skateboarding anyone? (Gift Book Review)

Well, here's not a typical book review for me! My son is very interested in skateboarding, so when American Modern Books asked if I would like to preview/review a copy of photographer Hugh Holland's "locals only" I was very curious.

First a bit about the book~ "locals only"is a 76 page pictorial snapshot of the mid-1970's skateboard "Culture" of southern California. The photos focus on the years 1975-1978. When I read the interview with the author in the front-pages of the book, I learned some things I didn't know... a bit of the "history" of the start of modern skateboarding, before it became "Commercial." Drought, empty drainage bowls and swimming pools were responsible in part for the rise of skateboarding as a sport. My son was familiar with the names Dogtown and Z-Boys, but they were all new to me.

Here's a little more information from the publisher:
by Hugh Holland
edited by Steve Crist

One afternoon in 1975, a young photographer named Hugh Holland drove up Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Los Angeles and encountered skateboarders carving up the drainage ditches along the side of the canyon. Immediately transfixed by their grace and athleticism, he knew he had found an amazing subject. Although not a skateboarder himself, for the next three years Holland never tired of documenting skateboarders surfing the streets of Los Angeles, parts of the San Fernando Valley, Venice Beach, and as far away as San Francisco and Baja California, Mexico.

During the mid-1970s, Southern California was experiencing a serious drought, leaving an abundance of empty swimming pools available for trespassing skateboarders to practice their tricks. From these suburban backyard haunts to the asphalt streets that connected them, this was the place that created the legendary Dogtown and Z-Boys skateboarders. With their requisite bleached blonde hair, tanned bodies, tube socks and Vans, these young outsiders are masterfully captured against a sometimes harsh but always sunny Southern California landscape.

I was surprised when it arrived, in a rather large box. This book is "Coffee-table" style, at 16x12 inches, and 76 pages. Kind of hides my son when he's looking at it! ;)

Now... on to the photos~ My one concern before agreeing to review this book was the appropriateness of the photos for a young skateboarder. The cover is one of my least favorite, as we aren't keen on bikini-clad bodies at our home (My son is inclined to use a sharpie to make it more "suitable" to his frame of mind, but we haven't gone there yet. I'm more inclined to use post-it note style "cover-ups").
 Although there are a few photos that show kids making bad choices (like smoking and trespassing), by and large, I felt it was appropriate to use those photos as a "Conversation" starter, to talk about things like how a few bad choices can color a whole group's image ~ Explanations for why "No Skateboarding" signs are so prevalent.
(click picture to enlarge)Copyright: © 2010 Hugh Holland/Courtesy of 

It's very interesting to see how the photos progress from very informal skating without helmets, pads, or even shoes (!) to wearing more safety gear... another good learning point.

To sum up, if you or someone you love is interested in skateboarding and/or the history of skateboarding, "locals only" would make a pretty cool Christmas gift.  
Skateboards, sweatbands, streetwear and other relics of the '70s are perfectly preserved in Holland's action shots of rail-riding teens." —Time Out New York (review of Hugh Holland's 2006 gallery show)
If you don't care for "Skin" and boys without shirts, then this wouldn't be a good choice... it is VERY Southern CA....

"locals only" lists at $39.95, and can be purchased on, as well as, Barnes & Noble, and many other locations.

I hope you enjoyed this review of a not-so-typical book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”