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Nude Dimes Fiasco
By Wez Lundry
Thursday, October 28, 2004
(quickly pasted for a laugh or two ... will be reformatted in the near future)


So, here’s how the story goes… We threw a little party for the release of the new issue of Pool Dust (which looks like shit, by the way), and my girl Meg took it upon herself to organize the whole shebang. She alerted the weekly entertainment rag, and they wanted to do a preview so they called me up and asked me what was up. When the story was supposed to come out, it didn’t, but I got an e-mail that told me that they’d rather just run a big cover story on pool skating in Phoenix. I told the goon we could talk about it at the party. He shows up looking like a sheep among wolves, aloof, unsure and unsteady. We’re all getting’ loose, and the last thing we want is some dude asking a bunch of questions. I point out a few people who might be of help, and hardly talk to him at all. The following week, I leave the country, and he starts calling people up. When I get back, all I hear from my friends is that this guy is being a goon, he only emphasizes the “illegal” aspect of what we are doing, and doesn’t do anything to ingratiate himself with the people about which he wants to write. We all talk and decide it’s a bag; too high profile, we don’t trust this guy to write the story, Jimmy’s on probation and that’s the last thing I need, some of us have jobs that wouldn’t appreciate that kind of coverage, etc. We all politely but firmly decline the invitation (I was gonna shoot the photos, and get some scrilla, but it just didn’t seem worth it for all the bullshit).

The guy, meanwhile (let’s call him Timmy Maggotturd), bums hard. His big opportunity for a cutting edge, “extreme” cover story is blown. This is when the fun begins. Perhaps out of desperation, or thinking that we might fall for tricks that lesser folk would fall for, he started to call people up and tell them that “so-and-so was going to do it, why don’t you?” in an effort to get people involved. Our crew is pretty tight, we all talk all the time, and this ploy was transparent from the start. It just pissed us off, and we continued to balk at the offer. But they weren’t done. Timmy really wanted his story, and his editor backed him and his tactics up. This is when the e-mails started. Below are actual e-mails sent from Timmy and his editor (we’ll call him Dick Farts), with my commentary interspersed. The first e-mail was forwarded to me by Colby Carter, and that’s what got me involved in the ridiculous e-mail campaign that followed:

Colby:
The pool skating story is now scheduled to appear in our November 4th issue, so one way or the other, it looks like it's going to happen. At this point, I really need to talk to the important people on the scene, and hopefully catch at least one day of pool skating. (Otherwise, to be honest, the story will read like these guys are "all talk, no action" - and I know that's not the case). Please get back to me soon about what time you could take a break to talk for maybe 15-20 minutes. I can meet on your lunch hour at SDG, if that's convenient (I work not far from Tempe). Thanks!
Timmy Maggotturd
Staff writer, Nude Dimes
(602) xxx-xxxx

My response:

Timmy,
I got this e-mail from Colby. You obviously can write whatever you want, but your e-mail contains a thinly veiled threat to expose us for being "all talk and no action." More appropriately you might frame the problem you are having as people unwilling to publicize something that they do that is somewhat underground and misunderstood, and that the publicity could cause us problems in the long term. You've seen my mag and understand that we are not "all talk and no action," but rather that we are skeptical of someone outside of our group trying to understand and write about something that is very personal to all of us.
You have also been contacting the wrong people for you story, who, if pressed, should admit to this. I am talking about people who don't really skate pools like we do, that is, just about every week.
As I reconsider, perhaps being "exposed" as all talk and no action might be better for us in the long run.
Wez Lundry

So, I found out through other people who skate but don’t really skate pools that the weekly had tried to contact other pool skaters. They wanted to run with this. Timmy wrote:

Wez,
Yes, I talked to Colby this morning, and he voiced similar concerns. The issue seems to be that I can't get everyone's trust to do the right kind of story because I'm an outsider. On the other hand, I hear lots of concerns that what you do is misunderstood by people outside the scene, so maybe an outsider (who's shown respect for other sports and scenes outside of his experience - see my stories on arcade kids, drifting, gaming and street racing) can bridge the gap. I like a lot of the stories in the latest Pool Dust - that one about "the old man and the pool" had tons of soul - so I already know you guys aren't one-dimensional "outlaws." But you also know how the writing biz works: I've promised my editors a story on this, and I have to deliver something. With your participation, this could be a really good piece - with photos reproduced so that people could actually see them! (No offense, but you know our press could do your photos justice). I hope you'll reconsider and give me a chance. That's all I can say. I'm available any day this week. Just e-mail me back, or give me a call - 602-xxx-xxxx.
Thanks -
timmy

So I responded:

Timmy,
I understand and sympathize with your position. Perhaps promising a story before you had you sources nailed in was a misjudgment. A few of us are talking this over.
Out of curiosity, and if you are willing to share, might I ask who you sources are so far? We don't claim to have any monopoly on pool skating, but without some luck or the right contacts I would think that seeing Pool Dust might be the closest you would get to making contact with some of the right people.
And you didn't mention the threat that I pointed out. You should know that bullying uncooperative sources into cooperation isn't exactly ethical, and that was quite a misstep. And we realize that.
Please realize that we have nothing against you whatsoever, personally or professionally, but we are evaluating amongst ourselves as to whether this would be something that we want to be a part of. We are not seeking publicity, as I guess you are now aware, and have no compulsion to let the population at large, including the police, know what we do and how we do it.
The desire to have my photos sprinted correctly is satisfied by my work with Thrasher, so that doesn't compel me much either (although I am pretty pissed about the printing, which is why I have a website going up soon with what the photos actually looked like).
Sorry this is dragging on in the way that it is.
Wez

So I am trying to be polite, but pointing out his missteps, and I even throw him a bone: “A few of us are talking it over.” Maybe if he would have played his cards right, something could have happened. But here’s his response:

Wez:
My sources so far are pretty much the folks I met at the Rogue at the Pool Dust premier: Jimmy, Colby, Cressy Rice, Kelly Baker, Cody Boat and Brian McNair. I got to speak to everyone briefly, everyone seemed pretty stoked about being in Nude Dimes, and then the paranoia apparently set in.

The "threat" you pointed out in my e-mail to Colby was not really intended to be taken that way. I said, "the story will read like these guys are 'all talk, no action' - and I know that's not the case," If all I get to include from everybody are the comments they shared about the scene without actually seeing the action. I was more or less pointing out how the article will be flawed if we can't arrange anything here. As you've pointed out, I have nothing to bargain with - it's clear no one is seeking this publicity. All I can say is that it'll be a better story, and everyone will be much more accurately represented, if y'all just cut me a break! For crying out loud, I'm considered the light entertainment guy here at Nudes Dimes - I'm not the hard-hitting reporter that goes after the controversial topics. I write about arcade games, LAN parties and other things people read for fun, as a break from the serious news stories the other writers do. I'm nothing to be feared, believe me!
-timmy

This one’s great. First he accuses us of paranoia. Then the pleading. Then the “really, I am not a threat to you,” as if we considered him a threat. My response, which I forwarded to his editor in the hopes that the whole thing would be dropped:

Timmy,
We are certainly not paranoid. And we are not scared of you or you writing. You are however, certainly losing ground rapidly by making condescending assertions like those.

None of the sources you have cited have agreed to nor given an interview. Nobody has made any comments on the record. Nobody has agreed to help you with this proposed article in any way, and everyone has expressed concern should you decide to cite any of us. Please do not think that we don't talk amongst ourselves, and haven't been talking amongst ourselves about you, your tactics, and your idea. It appears as though you are trying to win some of us over by stating that others have signed on to your project, again a breach of ethics.
Since none of us is cooperating, we are anxious to read your story. You have, unfortunately, pissed off or alienated us during the contacts between us, and perhaps thing would have worked out differently had you approached us differently.

I am cc-ing the editor of the Nude Dimes. I am sure this e-mail reads like an unsubstantiated rant, but hopefully when I forward the preceding e-mails it will make sense. Thinly veiled threats and accusations are no way to conduct the kind of business in which you profess to be. Please do not try to get me involved in this any more.

Wez Lundry

And since I told his daddy that he was misbehaving, daddy jumped to his defense. Here’s the first e-mail from Dick Farts:

wez, you guys should reconsider, since we are gong to do a story no matter what (which, i think, is what timmy's trying to say). we already have enough words and pictures to do that. but there's no question that we could do a much better story together than with you on the outside. thing is, we're not about burning you in any way, we just want to write about your swashbuckling activities. ur heros to us! the guys who started this movement (if u will) over in california twenty years ago had a devil-may-care attitude; guess we expected that from you guys, as well. come on, what are you afraid of? we only want to make stars out of you. and for what it's worth, the police have better things to do than hassle you guys. they don't really care. but isn't that part of the fun; i mean, isn't danger and living on the edge kind of the point? hope you reconsider. best, dick.

This is where shit gets hilarious. This guy is the chief editor of the rag, and his writing is atrocious. But besides that, see what he has to say. First, the “we are going to do it no matter what” bit, a mild threat, then a taunt (“what are you afraid of?”) followed by the ass-kissing appeal. We have become “swashbuckling,” “heroes,” and “living on the edge,” and he wants to make us “stars,” descriptions that we collectively laughed at, and would no doubt appear in the article. And of course the comparison to our “forefathers,” more of which would come later. My response:

Dick,
Thanks for your note. I'm sorry, but I just can't get interested in doing this. Again, I am not trying to be an asshole, we have nothing against what you do, just this project. Timmy has been awkward, threatening, condescending, and aloof from the start, which doesn't help things. I am not sure how and where you got the pictures, and who is in them, but I don't believe it is any of us. You certainly do not have permission to run any of the photos I sent in conjunction with the promo piece for the Pool Dust party, which never ran.

I understand you are not trying to burn us, and we aren't really worried about that. We just really don't want the publicity or attention. Referring to our activities as "swashbuckling" sort of sets off the kind of red lights that have been going off the entire time. We also do not want to be made into "stars." You guys have been using the wrong approach, you have to remember that we are all older than most skaters and notions of fame do not tend to appeal to us, especially taking the chance of giving our story to someone like Timmy, who has not given us any confidence that he can carry out the task of writing this article with the kind of understanding we would appreciate.

I have been skating pools for over 20 years. Pool skating started about 30 years ago. I am friends with the guys who started this stuff, well, some of them. I rode for Alva's company almost 20 years ago. Those guys were very territorial, and suspicious of outsiders trying to exploit their scene, or try to portray it in a certain light. Then, as is true today, they did not seek out unwanted publicity in the form of being the weekly paper's cover story.
The kind of cajoling going on here reeks of the kind of stuff we are afraid will come out in the article. If the police have better things to do, why do we get busted at the pools we ride? And if you writer portrays us as "swashbuckling" or some such nonsense, don't you think the cops would just think it was even funnier to bust us instead of leaving us with a warning? And no, getting busted generally isn't fun. Dealing with condescension from a Nude Dimes writer is nothing compared to a cop who has his stick up his ass and also has the power to write you a hefty ticket, or arrest you and take you to jail. That happens, and we want to minimize that risk, not glorify it.
I hate to keep saying "sorry but I hope you understand" as it appears that you guys don't understand. And again, nothing personal, I just don't want to be a part of it, and, I think, neither do the others. But we are interested in seeing the article when it comes out...
Wez Lundry

Dick’s response:
wez, thanks for trying to explain. we will just have to see what happens. too bad you guys have wimped out, after being so macho/gung ho at the getgo. you don't want to be stars? one of your members even said it had been his lifelong dream to be on the cover of nudes dimes doing his thing. granted, i can see from your attitude that that the scene here isn't exactly "swashbuckling." sorry to mischaracterize. used to be that people gloried in the danger of this (eluding the cops was a big part of the fun). i know, because i grew up doing it in l.a. as for us taking the wrong approach, what approach would you like us to take? we're not in the ass-kissing business at nudes dimes. take us or leave us. but we're doing a story with or without your cooperation, and you will be a part of it. we will just use whatever dealings we have had with you do date, and let it rip. (it won't be as good as it could have been, granted.) nothing personal on our end, either. good luck with your endeavor. dick

This is where the hilarity goes up a notch. First he accuses us of “wimping out,” after we were so “macho.” Then comes the old “dropping years” bit, as though it’s passé because Dick did it ages ago, an assertion I doubt very much (c’mon, you know how many people claim to get on your good side). Then the tough guy approach again. My response:

You don't get it, do you? "Wimped out?" Do you think we are high school kids that are going to succumb to peer pressure? "Macho" and "gung ho?" I am not quite sure who you are referring to when you say "members," but I can assure you that being on the cover of the Nude Dimes would not be a fulfillment of any of my lifelong dreams.
You never addressed the concerns I wrote in the first e-mail in which you were cc-ed, regarding you reporter's tactics and the subsequent alienation of his potential interview subjects. Now I understand why: you use the same tactics. I have not assented to being a part of your story, although I understand that since Pool Dust is in the public domain I guess that makes it fodder for the story. Please be aware, however, that I am the editor, but do not write all of the stories in it. You didn't respond to my concern over the use of any photographs that may be in your possession, but those are not available for you to use for this article; they were sent in good faith to accompany a preview article for the Pool Dust party, an article that never ran.

We do not expect ass kissing, but we do expect respect (not threats, pressure, cajoling). I am familiar with and generally support the Nude Dimes' journalistic style when it comes to hard news, e.g. stories on Arpaio, etc., that serve a true public interest. This doesn't serve the same kind of interest, yet you are using the same "hardball" tactics. You must realize that some of us lead very different lives from the typical skateboarder and we don't necessarily want the attention.

Your reporter approached me at the Pool Dust party and from the start seemed aloof, uncomfortable, and somewhat disconnected. He never discussed with me there any of the plans he had, but rather he talked to several of my friends and got their phone numbers. I left the country for two weeks, and when I got back all I heard was that he had been pestering them to take him skating, and he had repeatedly emphasized the technically illegal aspect of what we do over any other substantive issue that might be of interest. That is what turned us off. And then he has been repeatedly pestering my friends, lying to them as to who was going to cooperate in an attempt to bring more people into the non-existant fold. Now it has turned into some childish game of antagonism, a game in which you are apparently all too happy to participate.

The only dealing with me that Timmy has had to this date is at the Rogue. He did not interview me there, nor has anything been said on the record since. My e-mails cannot be considered source material.

I guess I expected better of this, and expected better when I chose to involve you, but cool heads and reason sometimes don't prevail.

Wez

His reply:

wez, i really don't care whether you participate or not. the reporter's tactics? frankly, i'm taking his word in the matter. nothing he says he did -- and, for that matter, that you say he did -- ventures away from standard reporting practices anywhere i've ever worked (including at the stodgy l.a. dimes). do you guys really think we are going to cajole you? we didn't realize we were dealing with such delicate souls. you guys are skateboarders, for christ's sake! threats? what are you talking about? i'm just giving you the bottom line -- we're doing a story. period. Your lack of participation isn't going to change that. and, the way we are reading things, you guys hardly seem brave, and the story will reflect that. but since you don't care, so what... right? if you sent out pictures as a part of a publicity package, we will use them (unless our law firm says otherwise; we always vet such matters). words to the wise, don't do that if you expect the pictures not be used. listen, you're obviously more worked up about this than we are, judging from your massiver e-mails. wez, come on, you involved me in this in an effort to get timmy in trouble. it didn't work. move on with your life. best, dick

Here we go again: First, we are delicate souls. Then, we’re not trying to threaten you, but here’s the threat: we are running the story and you are going to look bad. And I am going to use your photos. My response:

Look, you guys are acting like you've stumbled upon some major scoop, and are now scrambling to create some kind of controversy through antagonism. You don't see what you write as baiting? "Delicate souls" because we don't want to be written up? Your repeated attempts to question our bravery, manliness, etc. don't really affect me (and I would assume the others); we're not so insecure that having you call us names is going to make us beg you to write about us in a positive light. We really, like I have said all along, just don't want to be written about at all.
For the record: Regarding the photos, they were not sent as part of a publicity package, but in response to a specific request for a specific feature, one time use, which did not run. I retain all rights to my work. These photos were not sent to run with the article that is being prepared, but with an article that was killed. You do not have permission to use these photographs.

I involved you in this because, as Timmy's superior, I would have thought that you might have a better handle on propriety and acceptable tactics, and might get Timmy to lay off (and quit lying, etc.). Dick, come on, I thought you'd be a little more sensible.

I am not that worked up about it, although I am a little concerned that you are going to use your weekly as a bully pulpit, to show others that when the Nude Dimes calls, you'd better cooperate. Isn't that really what is going on here? These are the thinly veiled threats that you have sent, essentially: cooperate, or we will make you look bad; "you hardly seem brave, and the story will reflect that." Surely you can recognize the inherent threat in that proposition?

I know you love controversy down there, but really, how will this whole episode reflect on the Nude Dimes? "Non-Cooperative Skateboarders as Hardhitting Journalism?" This whole thing reeks of a self-propelled controversy, at our expense.

Wez

His response:

wez, you continue to miss the proverbial point. again, nobody's threatening you... i'm only telling you that we definitely are doing a story, and all your posturing over this will naturally be part of it, just as it would be with *any* such story. it doesn't matter whether you have given us permission to mention you and yours in that story or not. you can't stop us from doing a story on this subject. as for the photos, we will defer to our attorney on that, and note your claim to him. But i'm sure we will be able to get photos of somebody skateboarding a pool, even if it's not one of your people. you're right, though, that there's nothing major about this story. never was. it's a lifestyle feature, which is why it amazes me that you are so timid about cooperating (all of a sudden). but in a way, it's actually more interesting to be able to say that phoenix skateboarders veer from the traditional devil-may-care attitude of their legendary southern california forebears. this is not a threat... because i have no doubt that there is nothing anybody could say that would scare you out of your shell. you seem to only be frightened of publicity, the authorities, etc. as for the cops, well, they tell us officially from the top that they don't care. in any case, the cat's out of the bag, right? by the way, you keep calling timmy maggotturd a liar (which seems as big an exaggeration as much of the stuff you're spouting in your e-mails); what exactly are you talking about? dick

Note more belittling, we are nowhere near as cool as our “California (sic) forebears” because we won’t cooperate, we are frightened, but I have it on authority from the top (of the whole Phoenix police? Yeah right!) that they don’t care… My response:

Awesome, get a skateboarder in Phoenix to pose for a picture.

Timmy's lie revolves around the fact that he has been calling up person B, telling them that person A has agreed to be part of the story, when person A has not agreed, in an attempt to sway person B to decide to be a part of it.

First and foremost, realize that I (and I think I speak for the others here as well) do not want some geeky Nude Dimes guy writing a bunch of stupid shit about something he doesn't understand, and apparently something you don't understand as well (but claim to have been a part of). That is our major problem with this whole ridiculous enterprise, and why we are "timid." You claim to have an understanding of "our legendary Southern California forebears;" my guess is that you watched the Dogtown and Z Boys film. Who directed that film? Stacy Peralta, someone who was there. Who cooperated? Craig Stecyk, Glen Freidman (as much as I think he is a blowhard) and the original Z-Boys. It wasn't some geeky guy like Timmy trying to make his mark in the world by piggybacking on other people's deals. Unauthentic shit may sell ads in your paper, but in our mind it stinks to high heaven.

One of the guys said they'd do it if I wrote it. Why? Because I am one of them, have been there from the start, they know my writing, and they know I can back it up.
And really, saying I'm posturing is calling the kettle black, wouldn't you agree? You continue to bait me, and I'm willing to go along with it, all the while knowing you are now only interested in trashing me and my friends.

But really, at this point, given the catch-22 you have both presented us, there's not much I can do. Maybe I should meet with Timmy over a beer or two at somewhere like Casey Moore's. Why don't you ask him how he feels about that.

Oh shit, I forgot to add, you can come along too.

So I guess I lost my temper a bit, finally. But someone had to set this kook straight, right? And hey, maybe we can discuss it over a beer. If they were so gung-ho and macho swashbuckling writers, you’d think they’d jump at the chance for a little sit down. Unless, of course, they were scared. Dick’s final response:

wez, i don't rally care whether you agree with my choice of writers, or not. journalists, you must know, aren't experts on every avenue of human endeavor; they write about all manner of things. you take yourself way to seriously to think that only an insider can write about skateboarding pools, which is hardly a new phenom. as for you writing a story for us on a subject you're neck-deep involved in, no way! we don't want a wet-kiss-to-the-ear story about how great you and your pals think you are. about timmy, he may be a quiet guy, but he is a discerning reporter and an excellent writer. yeah, i saw that movie about yesterday's coolios, and we wrote about the scene incessently when i was the editor of l.a. nude dimes. skateboarding there is all but a cliche these days. been done to death (no so here, and now i'm seeing why). plus, I skateboarded as a kid. thing is, how much do i need to know about the so-called Phoenix culture to commission a story about people who, frankly, don't seem all that cutting edge to me after all this dialogue? come on, wez, you guys aren't inventing the wheel here. re timmy's so-called lies, do you guys really rely on peer pressure that much when you're deciding what to do in your lives? "oh, if person B said he'd talk to you, then i guess i will, too. duh!" i'm beginning to think that maybe we should reconsider this story altogether... i don't want to bore our readers to death. but thanks for the invite. that would be fun; you seem like an articulate guy, even if you demonstrate a certain naivete about how sausage is made in the journalism world. look, man, no hard feelings about any of this. dick

Here comes the backpedaling, but egoistic posturing from behind the keyboard. “I guess skateboarding really isn’t so cool, I wouldn’t want to bore our readers.” Besides the atrocious spelling, he invites me to see how “sausage” is made. Uh, no thanks dude. My final response:

Dick, no hard feelings taken. But please do read and understand the stuff I write to you. We don't succumb to the kind of pressure Timmy tried, but that doesn't mean that Timmy didn't try. That's one of the things that turned us off, and one of the reasons I appealed to you as a potential voice of reason. Sorry we didn't live up to your expectations as "swashbucklers" or "heroes" or "stars" or "living on the edge" or whatever brush you wanted to paint us with. I guess we are truly boring in your eyes, and the eyes of your readers. But despite, or perhaps because of, my supposed naivete, I did enjoy the exchange, especially your innuendo. Wez

So the supposed “story” is set to come out next week. And I, for one, can’t wait to read it. But really, when kooks come knocking on your door like this, are you really going to cooperate?



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