Looking Sideways: 10 Things

Here are the 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week.

1. Lauren MacCallum bonus episode.

If I have one major regret in the four years I’ve been doing the podcast, it’s around the way I handled the topic of Terje Haakonsen’s history of homophobia in my conversation with him for episode 121. The feedback I received from some listeners, who felt like my deliberate editorial approach was alienating, made it clear to me that I still have much work to do when it comes to shepherding these conversations in the right way. 

This is also why I found the debate around Terje’s recent public apology for these remarks so interesting. My initial reaction, if I’m being honest, was that his apology was fine and to be applauded. But it soon became clear that many members of the LBGT+ community completely disagreed with this perspective, finding the apology to be ill-thought out at best and disingenuous at worst. These contrasting reactions told me that here, yet again, was an opportunity to try and understand that difference in perspective I’d unwittingly perpetuated in episode 122. 

These gaps of understanding are really the territory that interests me. If you’re open to it, they’re an opportunity to learn, and examine our own often buried prejudices - which is really what the entire podcast is ‘about’. After all, action sports is as handy a lens as any through which to examine these issues. So I asked my old friend and previous podcast guest Lauren MacCallum to come back on the show to discuss the entire brouhaha for a bonus episode. 

As is always the case when I talk to Lauren, this was an enjoyable and at times challenging conversation. I learned a lot from it. Perhaps you will too. Click here to listen.

2. I found this piece by Evening Sends really fascinating. It touches briefly upon something I've been thinking about a lot in relation to surfing. How the old ways of 'regulating' (for want of a better word) the culture aren't really fit for purpose when it comes to the new realities each of these cultures face and are grappling with.

This tension is playing out in lots of different mini-debates right now (who is 'allowed' access, how do we cope with all these newcomers?, what's suitable for sharing on social media etc. etc.) but they're all essentially about the same thing. Old meeting new - and being found wanting. 

Personally I think a reevaluation of how we regulate these interactions is healthy and long overdue. But there is definitely tension afoot. And just wait until the Olympic influence is factored in. Click here to read the piece. 

3. This piece is the Seaspiracy take I’ve been waiting for. Even-handed and authoritative from my pal and previous two-time Looking Sideways podcast guest Hugo Tagholm of Surfers Against Sewage - click here to read it.

4. This Aphex Twin Melodic Selection playlist is the perfect introduction to one of the most influential artists of the last three decades, and has been soundtracking my little Camber Sands break this week. Click the link above to listen. I also very much enjoyed this New York Times piece on the ‘long tail’ of Aphex’s seminal piano piece Avril 14th. Read it here.

5. In my forthcoming conversation with skater and photographer Leo Sharp, we discussed the way the changing fortunes of a spot like Milton Keynes, say, reflects society’s wider attitudes to skateboarding. 

That insight from Leo is one reason why I am looking forward to the forthcoming No Comply exhibition at London’s Somerset House this summer. 

Curated by a cast of UK skateboarding’s creative heavyweights, No Comply will ‘celebrate the country’s vibrant and diverse skateboarding scene, documenting the transformative influence the subculture has played in shaping people, cities and culture in the UK, and beyond.’ Click here to find out more. 

6. Anybody deciding to start a print magazine in the current climate has to be applauded for their sheer creative bloody-mindedness. So hat-off to Leo and the rest of the team behind The Skateboarder’s Companion, who just released their second issue. The first issue flew out (I missed the boat), so be quick and click here to order. Finding out more about the genesis of the new mag was one of the reasons I was so keen to chat to Leo for the podcast. We also talked about about another of his projects, the amazing MK Skate book. There are still some copies left of this brilliant slice of UK skate history. Click here to find out more.

7. My interview with Andrew Alexander King was full of fascinating insights, but I particularly enjoyed his take on how brands will need to change their approach to sponsorship and ambassadorship. 

In this piece in Outside (apparently inspired by our conversation on the podcast), Andrew expands upon these thoughts. Click here to read it. 

8. New season of Weird Waves! This show is always worth watching - check out episode one of season three above.

9. Patagonia’s new film We The Power explores the renewable energy revolution taking place across Europe right now - watch it above.

10. Anecdote isn’t data, of course. But personal testimony can still be powerful, as this blog from mountain guide and friend of the show Neil McNab demonstrates. It details his own experiences of seeing the changes wrought on the mountain environment by climate change over the three decades he’s been living and working in the mountains - click here to read it.