Eighteen-year-old Grambling native Joseph “Joe” Glenn swaggered into the Tiger Xpress with long, lean strides, a colorful backpack, loose-belted pants and a skateboard. He coolly slumped into a booth, chatted with friends and formed a friendly grin of youth and orthodontia. Skateboarding, Joe’s passion, entered his life a year and a half ago.
He breathlessly lists 14 professional skaters before expressing an appreciation for the sport formerly viewed as a mode of white suburbanite rebellion.
“Everybody skates now,” Joe emphasizes.
Since discovering the hobby, he has begun a whirlwind life occupied by ingesting skate magazines. He dreams of sponsorship and international travel.
“It’s a way out, like basketball,” he says.
He actually found his first board and has broken several since.
After-school free time and cosmic camaraderie led to the creation of the Galaxy Boys Skate Team with his brother, Joshua Glenn, and friend, Jemiran Hunter.
Joe developed tough skin and is no stranger to spiteful campus audiences. Many passersby watch the Galaxy Boys and reference Scarred, an MTV show created to tell tales behind the gnarly marks on skaters, riders and stuntmen.
Joe implies that most watch the skaters and hope to see blood. “They need to stop saying ‘Scarred’ every time we skate.”
Joe’s most consistent nuisance? Stuffy grown ups.The Galaxy Boys’ skating is frequently eclipsed by meddling po-pos.
“They harass us 365.”
The guys interject that they are removed from virtually everywhere that they skate and liken the experiences to the alienation in Lupe Fiasco’s hit single “Kick Push.”
As if on cue, one of Grambling’s own cruises by, pauses, looks at the guys and continues on his way. For once, though, it appears, the guys want to be interrupted, harassed, banned. Was the officer disinterested, or did he front for a professional camera and notepad?
No one is certain.
The guys ollie, kick flip, pose and one-up each other in tones of friendly competition.
“So poo,” Joe says, as the other Galaxy Boys land in grassy space, rather than on the board.
Rubberneckers peer through tinted windows to watch the three young men exchange handshakes, encouragement and occasionally dive onto the sidewalk.
An elderly woman crosses the path of an almost cleared gap. The guys speak to her, but cease movement until she crosses the street safely.
So, what exactly separates skaters from the general Grambling population?
Big brother Joshua explains. “People want to see us skate, to fall. Skaters want to see [us] land. If [we] land and do a trick [skaters] gets hype.”
Non skaters might dress like skaters and wear popular skate brands, but many can’t land, execute and/or name a trick.
“Posers,” the guys say.
The final Galaxy issue? Appearance.
“Our shoes are messed up because we skate,” Joe says and motions toward a hole in his Vans.
After all, ratty sneaks just will not fly.