Photos and words by Jonathan Mehring
Explosion of energy in NYC, courtesy of Issue 49.
Jonathan Mehring is many things, including the first photographer to ever have a skate photo book published with Nat Geo. But more importantly, he was a glorious victor in our 2014 MC Photo Comp with this shot right here. So we thought, who better than a winner to give you some inspiration for this year’s comp? Enjoy Jonathan’s summer in NYC shots, straight from our #49 Photo Annual.
If you’ve ever been here between June and September, you know that NYC is alive. If you’ve spent the entire year here, you know that it explodes with energy during these summer months. People are out and about and the city churns with them. The best smells, and the worst smells, waft through narrow streets in tightly packed neighbourhoods, and one cannot resist being tempted by the smell of roasting peanuts on Canal Street or of Halal food carts as you pass by. Conversely, garbage day in Chinatown is something you’ll wish you could forget. On any given day, though, in any given neighbourhood, beautiful women turn, laughing and smiling with their friends around nearly every corner; legs and skin, catching your eye in the hot sun. Picture-perfect faces and sidelong glances.
Turn another corner and you’ll be accosted by a homeless man wanting change, wearing only garbage bags and duct tape for clothing. Escaping around another corner, you run into an over-eager street vendor who tries to convince you his Gucci wallets are real. You duck below ground, and there you will realise that what’s happening on the surface is just the beginning. The subway system is a world of its own. A slithering realm of metal, grime and noise that never stops moving. A word to the wise: do not get into an empty subway car at rush hour. There is a reason it is empty; usually an extremely dirty homeless person will have claimed it as their own for the day, sending choking fumes down its entire length.
But rise above the surface again and another thing is apparent: the city is seething with skateboarders. A new wave of skating has surged throughout the city. Those who were holed up at home through the winter have now re-emerged. Those who were travelling have returned, and those who wanted to visit have arrived. New York City is back on the skate map, stronger than ever before and there is no sign of slowing down.
Still, the city is tough to skate. Rough pavement, security guards and old architecture still dominate the landscape, but there is fresh blood out there, willing to fight back against the city’s skate-hostile obstacles and push security guards to their limits. Videos such as Cherry, Static 4/5, Trust and Sure have helped re-popularise skating here, and the construction of new skate parks with street-oriented designs have helped local skaters’ skill levels rise like never before. The evidence is clear. There are more skaters in NYC than at any time in its past, and that number is still growing. The streets are ours!