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A grizzled woman to bear.

The slum-urbs. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.

The slum-urbs. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.


Her reputation preceded her, as they say.
In a city of merely a handful of hundred thousands,
she left a trail of broken beds in her wake.

Her greatest feat was detachment.
Her greatest fear was silence at night.
His greatest desire was to stand second in line.

Behind her, of course, ready to step forward.
But always behind her, for however long.
Because that place ought to be only his.

A greenish glow from above. Attic. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.

A greenish glow from above. Attic. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.

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A love letter opener.

Before the fingers glow. Six-room. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.

Before the fingers glow. Six-room. Allston, MA. Winter 2013.

Dear random bookstore lady,
Thank you for making such a meaningful book recommendation. You caught me off-guard; I was thoroughly contemplating purchase before your nudge in the right direction. The tone of your voice was familiar and endearing. Ignoring your advice was impossible.
Truth be told, another friend of mine had already raved about the book, one I couldn’t wait to read, and now, have read.

I wrote you a poem and drew you a picture in gratitude:

we pretend that valentine’s day doesn’t matter over dinner.
we talk about socks and rocks while flipping bottle caps.

i wear my thinking cap forward and my dreaming cap backward.
i eat monopoly pieces when it isn’t my turn.

we have a hard time looking one another in the eye.
we are shy and embarrassed by our pupil’s honesty.

i meet people i assume i’ll never see again.
i don’t want you to be one of these people.

we could practice cursive and long division.
we already do to some extent, adding fractions too.

Impossible to ignore. Brookline Booksmith. Brookline Village, MA. Winter 2013.

Impossible to ignore. Brookline Booksmith. Brookline Village, MA. Winter 2013.

Jahmal Williams: Like an OG wave.

Sick seaside skateboarding. Photo: Marcus Manoogian.

We’re keeping it east coast this week at Like a Wave. From Boston to Phillie to DC and, of course, NYC, the Northeast has twisted the surf-oriented culture of So-Cal skateboarding. Despite our blog’s fine branding, everyone here at Like a Wave, fresh or hesh, sees skateboarding as stand alone. No other mode of transportation better synthesizes free expression and movement. Moreover, beginning in the late seventies, no other independent pursuit has played such a profound role in shaping street culture. All fashion, music, and art dubbed ‘underground’ is inherently tied, if not a product, of the skateboarding revolution.

Pursuit in NYC.  Bill Eppridge. 14 May 1965. Life Magazine.

Pursuit in NYC. Bill Eppridge. 14 May 1965. Life Magazine.

The above photo begs one to imagine skateboarding far removed from sunny beaches and dropped in the heart of the concrete jungle. While the Z-Boys of Venice Beach channeled surf into their aesthetic, skateboarding was already happening on the east coast in its own right.
Pushing aside one soapbox only to stand atop another, Like a Wave welcomes Jahmal Williams into our ever-growing sect of respectable skateboarders.

Hopps-icle vendor. Hopps Skateboards Ad. Summer 2010. Marcus Manoogian.

With deep roots in Boston, Jahmal has been on the skate scene for a couple of decades. Eastern Exposure III, as the name suggests, was a black and white video montage that quite literally put modern east coast skateboarding on the map. Jahmal was there, way back in 1996.

Jah-Wallie at the banks. Photo: Allen Ying.

Jah-Wallie at the banks. Photo: Allen Ying.

Jahmal has always demonstrated his commitment to art. In teaming with past featured skater, Ed Templeton, Jahmal joined one of the most art-fluencial skate companies of all time, TV. He then followed Ed onto another skate venture, the earliest conception of Toy Machine. Go figure.

Self portrait by Jahmal Williams.

Self portrait by Jahmal Williams.

Currently Jahmal owns and operates one of the sickest east coast companies in skateboarding, Hopps. Skaters out there, support his efforts. The company has terrific ads and the art direction in general is consistently on point.

The world as we see it. Photo: Ian Patrick Connor.

The world as we see it. Photo: Ian Patrick Connor.

Jahmal, thanks for making waves. Best wishes on the right coast.

Instantaneously.

As Pie. Wayne Thiebaud. Oil on Canvas. MAM. Summer 2012.

As Pie. Wayne Thiebaud. Oil on Canvas. MAM. Summer 2012.

The commuter rail passes at night.
I don’t need to see because I know:
these trains don’t rattle my bones.

I teach poetry to little ones.
They favor the slant rhyme
& fake words for all of time.

A girl asked me: what makes a poem?
Look, a single word might do
or a slew/ of them together.

All it takes is recollection
and the right environment.
Any thought can be hell-bent.

A boy told me his favorite word.
‘Instantaneously.’ Definitely.
Long-winded but meaning ‘immediately.’

Spoken words, another said so,
after you get mad, you get sad.
So succinct and self-contained.

Human nature is not sight.
We exist to envision ourselves
as works in perpetual progress.

Home runs not out of the park,
but oddly within the walls
and still somehow out of reach.

A reference. AMK. Summer 2012.

A reference. AMK. Summer 2012.

Kevin Coakley: Like a soft-spoken wave.

Kevin Coakley and the kickflip heard ’round the world. Zander Taketomo.

Like a Wave has been slipping on all fronts but none more than its commitment to skateboarding. The truth is that there are fewer and fewer real rippers out there. As our staff ages, nostalgia stinks up the cubicles at LAW Headquarters. This is a phenomenon experienced by all twenty-something skater boys. Past are the days of spending all night in a parking lot or ditch laughing at bloody elbows with the homies. Now, our ankles are crunchy, and life is the grind. The consensus around here is that the grass roots aspect of our art is no longer the emphasis. No, selling sneakers and soda seems to be the focus. Our staff encourages you, disenchanted skate rats, to push fast down the street, bomb a hill, and slash a curb. Fuck it. We decide when we’re benched. ‘Flip in, flip’ out can’t kill the kid in us.

Makes don't always matter. 50-50 concoction. Photo: Taketomo.

Makes don’t always matter. 50-50 concoction. Photo: Taketomo.

Many readers may be unaware, but one of the piddly excuses for our frequent hiatus is relocation and its dizzying implications. Back in 2010, our start-up office was an apartment in the heart of dairy land: Wisconsin, home of endless farm fields and unforgivable winters. Soon after, Like a Wave went international, conducting its operations out of a one-room cell in South Korea. The scene was encouraging but ultimately stifled by economic disaster. Back in Wisconsin, the blog suffered tremendously. Moving back to the Midwest was a huge set-back in terms of inspiration on wood and wheels. At last, our small firm has planted itself on the east coast at arguably the birthplace of America, Boston, Mass. The skate ideology in this region is raw and heavily centered on reputation. Careers aren’t championed here; they are held onto as pipe dreams. No one readily admits, but while surrounded by urban decay, skateboards are security blankets, objects of unwavering attachment. Inanimate as they are, skateboards breath life. Here in Boston, it’s trial by fire, sink-or-swim tea party style.
There are a slew of mentionable Bostonian skateboarders: Jerry Fowler, Lee Berman, Bro Gumpright… ummm, PJ Ladd. But, at the moment, Kevin Coakley is blazing his own trail as a hometown hero. This guy isn’t new to the scene, but he’s not often in the spotlight. Like a Wave sings the praises of this underrated OG.

Kevin through Taketomo's lens. Boston, MA.

Kevin through Taketomo’s lens. Boston, MA.

Street skateboarding is an extension of inherent urban design. Coakley drops lines through his city like one might walk a familiar route to work. He turns even the roughest spots into smooth canvases. His stand-out, opening part in Blueprint’s Make Friends with the Colour Blue cemented him as an ‘east coast creative type.’ This entry into skateboarding’s often straightforward progression stood out as tangential. Coakley didn’t travel to California or, heaven forbid, China to craft a video part. He stayed at home and made his imperfect stomping ground into a playground. This aesthetic direction goes all the way back to the seventies, when Venice Beach Dogtowners painted their walls with the phrase ‘Locals Only,’ as if to say: ‘You don’t belong because you don’t eat, sleep, and breath these streets.’

The streetest trick. Photo: Takemoto.

The streetest trick. Photo: Taketomo.

Like a Wave proudly places a feather in Kevin Coakley’s cap. Cheers! And best of luck keeping our essence alive. The ‘Red-Eye’ feature on SLAP was another gem.

Before loneliness felt wrong.

Insides inside-out. Allston, MA. Winter 2012.

Insides inside-out. Allston, MA. Winter 2012.


You wanted long sentences hell bent on disorienting,
drawing you in and turning your insides inside-out,
triggering spontaneous memories of the times you broke
branches to travel through the thicket in the back forty,
your leafy tunnel into yourself, before loneliness
felt wrong and before you couldn’t shake the feeling
of wanting more, before more seemed possible,
there was this thicket, just, you and yours.

Grosbeaks.

Broad daylight. Boston, MA. Spring 2012.

Inundated with social engagements, he was esteemed for his facility with language. He was a confident thirty. His apartment was well arranged, empty at a glance yet teeming with treasures. He always entered through the door as if emerging from some hostile, foreign world. This place was him, one-hundred percent.
He mulled it over and decided that he could use a good bath, that the bath would do him some good, so he fixed the bath and a drink, sunk into the tub and sipped.
He soon decided a shower was what he really needed, so he pulled the plug and took the clean slate approach.
The water blanketed his body in warmth, immediately replenishing itself, following his contours. He applied more shampoo than normal, enjoying the excess soapy froth. The radio within him chimed, almost echoing throughout the tiled room.
“This new story could be put as such,
succinctly,
‘Don Quixote rides again.’
Nothing magical, just mental.”

The shower ran quick, ten minutes or less, usual. He dried himself with a thick towel that still smelled of fabric softener. In front of the mirror he rehearsed.

“I plead an either/or fallacy. The buzz surrounds either those that make themselves omnipresent or anticipation builds while absence makes the heart grow founder.
“I have been a recluse for far too long, intentionally removing myself, refusing to answer correspondence, opting not to join the e-world, so to speak. This will stop. I have hired a team of incorrigible youth to handle my pubic self. These folks will arrange press conferences, signings, interviews, et cetera. I am to be begin the arduous duty of standing behind my life and my work, honoring you, the public’s, invitations. This much I owe: to reveal myself as unsurprising and ordinary; to execute life routinely; to remain true to my moral code of conduct.”

He had been fiddling with his hair all along. Clothes had been laid out for him on his bed. He knew they were there; he wondered what they might be, a tie perhaps, his brown leather belt and dress loafers. There wasn’t a whole lot of time left before his seven pm broadcast. There would be people, possibly self-proclaimed ‘specialists,’ to aid him with make-up. Cameras have been known to add poundage and amplify skin imperfection. He winced. His radio cut-in.
“Perhaps this isn’t the best time.
There is still time to call it off.
No promises have been made.
Who needs promises anyway?
My work is my word.”

Baby beaks. Tenney Park. Madison, WI. Summer 2012.