In 2020, as people found themselves increasingly confined to their homes, vast swathes purchased skateboards. Skateboarding equipment sales nearly doubled between February and July of that year. Just a few months ago, the sport made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, where two teenagers emerged victorious as an entirely new kind of Olympian. In his new memoir, The Most Fun Thing, Kyle Beachy suggests that skateboarding is “every bit as relevant to our moment as yoga, tarot, protest, facism, or cooking,” but that it also transcends the current moment. “To know skateboarding,” he writes, “is to know more completely the rigors, rewards, and negotiations of being human.”
We are thrilled to be hosting a vibrant and exciting group of skateboarders and skate aficionados. Made up of writers, film directors, and one Olympian, our panelists will discuss the ways skating is relevant to both modern life and being human, as well as the ways it is continuing to evolve. We invite guests to join us before the event for drinks.
About the Panelists:
Kyle Beachy's first novel, The Slide, won The Chicago Reader's Best Book reader's choice award. His short fiction has appeared in Fanzine, Pank, Hobart, Juked, The Collagist, and elsewhere. His writing on skateboarding has appeared in The Point, The American Reader, The Chicagoan, Free Skateboard Magazine, The Skateboard Mag, Jenkem, Deadspin, and The Classical. He teaches at Roosevelt University in Chicago and co-hosts the skateboarding podcast Vent City with pro skater Ryan Lay and others. Find him on Twitter @kylebeachy and on Instagram @themostfunthing.
Jessica Edwards has a broad background in the film industry as a director, producer, and publicist. She’s the founder of Film First, a production company that creates and distributes documentary features, shorts and new media projects including the award-winning Mavis! about soul and gospel pioneer Mavis Staples which won a Peabody in 2017. Edwards holds an MA in Media Studies from The New School in New York City and a BA in Cinema Studies from Concordia University in her native Canada. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Noah Johnson is a writer and editor from Brooklyn, New York. He is currently Senior Editor at GQ and GQ Style. Previously he has held editor positions at Details, Style.com, and Complex. His writing has been published by The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.
Willy Staley is a story editor at The New York Times Magazine. He has written about skateboarding for the Times and California Sunday Magazine.
Alexis Sablone is an architect, artist, and professional skateboarder living in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BA from Barnard College, a Masters in Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is an Olympian.
About the Moderator:
Steve Rodriguez has been a dedicated skateboarder for over three decades. Steve is widely recognized as the “mayor” of New York City’s tight-knit skateboarding community. In 1996, Steve’s unwavering passion for skateboarding and the surrounding lifestyle inspired him to launch 5boro Skateboards—which he still co-owns today. 5boro has grown into one of the most well respected brands in skateboarding. Steve has taken it upon himself to become an advocate for all New York skaters by volunteering his time, expertise and resources to help city officials plan and execute a variety of skateboarding-related initiatives over the past two and a half decades. Through Steve’s involvement with the New York City Parks Department and Department of Transportation, he has helped fundraise and design more than a dozen skateparks and plazas throughout the city’s five boroughs including Maloof Park in Flushing, Astoria Skatepark and Coleman Oval Skatepark (AKA LES skatepark) under the Manhattan Bridge. As the “mayor” of NYC skateboarding Steve is charged with lobbying city officials to continue their support for building more skater-designed parks and plazas around NYC as well as preserving non-skate specific multi-use public space. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Harold Hunter Foundation as well as on the board of Directors for USA Skateboarding which is the national governing body for Skateboarding in the Olympics for the United States. In addition to his deep involvement with the skateboarding industry, he is also an accomplished advertising executive. Steve has over twenty years of experience in the areas of consulting, project management, creative services and recruiting. He has worked for world-class agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, Anolmaly, BBH and most recently EP+Co, where he is Senior Vice President and Head of Creative Talent & Culture. Steve is also regularly sought out by leading consumer brands to consult on a variety of lifestyle-driven marketing campaigns.