May your new year be filled with light and joy!
In 2002 (or so?), I had recently been divorced, and was working on getting the tattooed sleeve on my left arm finished. I was living on my own for the first time. I went to visit Jason Brooks (my tattoo artist) after the sleeve was complete so that he could see it all healed up. He had just made the art for some decks and was selling them at the shop. The art was awesome, and he threw in a set of skate wheels. That meant all I had to do was buy trucks and I had a working skateboard.
So I did.
And then I had a complete skateboard, so I figured I might as well start skating. And it would be harder to start the next year. So I got lessons at my local skate park and started scooting around.
I broke my nose, my wrist and injured both ankles in the process of learning to skate, but skating taught me something really important: I’m pretty tough. I can fall down, hurt myself and get back up again and repeat the process.
It was also the first place I learned about The Fear.
“The Fear” is a concept I first encountered in skateboarding. It is what keeps people from doing stupid things. Like skateboarding. You have to overcome it in order to do even the most basic things on a skateboard. My skate friends will talk about it in hushed tones. Making sure you try a trick again after a big fall, just so that you don’t develop The Fear. Because it isn’t failing that hurts you, it is The Fear. Doubting yourself when you should be boldly pushing.
A perfect example of this is dropping in. It is a move where you stand at the edge of a ramp, board clicked out on edge, tail of the board under your back foot. You then step out onto the front of the board and lean forward. Mechanically easy. Physically easy. Mentally/emotionally hard as hell. You have to just trust that you are going to make it through a 4-6 foot fall. And if you don’t do that, you basically can’t skate bowls or ramps.
The Fear is over come through patience and practice, or just taking a deep breath and pushing past it. Realizing that it is just a sensation and worse than the actual consequences of what ever it is you are afraid of.
The Fear is what stopped my boxing training. There was a span of time where we were sparring all the time. At the gym I went to, sparring was the real deal. It was a fight from the moment you got in the ring. I was getting hit in the head a lot and couldn’t control flinching. That meant if my opponent landed a few head shots on me, I would start flinching and then it was open season. I could take the hits. I was a decent boxer. But once The Fear settled in about the flinching I never did get past it.
This year I helped out with the Scare for a Cure haunted house. It was a lot of fun, and because of my stunt experience I got to be rigged up with a pneumatic device for explosively spraying blood on people, called a squib. So Squib Zombie was my name…
I was stationed outside a trailer with a chain link fence around it. When the party came through, the guides led them into the fenced off area and conveniently forgot to close the gate. Cue Squib Zombie. I charged out of the shadows, through the fence and into the trailer area. Once appropriately close, Crazy Nick would step out from behind the trailer, shoot me with a shot gun and I would spray the party with fake blood and fall flat on my back dead. Then there would be some yelling and interaction with Nick and his family and people would be ushered off by the guides. Running 40 feet and getting shot every five minutes about 55 times a night. I had a great time.
At some point in the event I realized that the process of refilling the squib was way creepier than my yelling and flying out of the darkness:
I destroyed one of my Goodwill tuxedos to serve as my costume. The idea behind that is that if a global apocalypse comes, I’m going to put on my finest clothes and go out in style. That turned out to be a great choice since now I have a beautifully blood-stained and hacked up tuxedo.Since the role involved falling on my back a lot on rocky scrappy ground, I slit open the back of the jacket and inserted some closed cell foam camp mat for safety’s sake.
This is the email I sent to the Scare for a Cure list after I worked it this year. It is a pretty good summary of the time I had:
Since it was my first time working the Scare for the Cure I figured I would write up some impressions of the haunt. In the run of the 2010 SCARE for a Cure, I:
- destroyed a tuxedo (never getting the deposit back, I guess)
- ran 40 feet and was “shot” between 50 and 60 times a night
- took a similar number of falls
- was actually shot once
- had my fingers and leg stepped on
- was kicked in the leg and ribs
- was kicked in the head twice in one night (accidents all)
- was tripped over
- was groped by under aged girls (they were harvesting blood off my jacket, honest your honor. Wait. That didn’t make it better did it.)
- was beat or prodded with a staff, a cane, a shot gun butt, and a wooden paddle
- was bitten by unknown insects between my fingers
- learned how to expertly aim fake blood fired from my nipple area
- dyed my bathtub pink
- am still bright red down the left side of my body
- painted SO MANY guests red.
- learned that pomade and dirt don’t mix well. Or maybe mix too well
- am covered in a large variety of bruises, scrapes and bumps
and most importantly:
- I had a great time
- I met awesome people
- We raised money for a great cause
Thank you all for this opportunity and especially the variety of Crazy Nicks (Nikki even), the car zombies and of course Crazy Nick’s daughters who were always scarier than I was.
Check out my photos from the Scare: http://www.nathanblackphotography.com/Events/Scare-for-a-Cure/
I’ve been taking stunt man classes for about 8 months now. I found out about the class through a girl I was dating. Me and the girl didn’t work out, but the class sure is.
Every Sunday from 6-8 I go to Crenshaw Athletics and work out with Richard Hancock and whoever else shows up. Richard is an awesome guy who has been doing gymnastics for 40 years and stunt work for 30. He is the real deal. His imdb page is a mile long and full of awesome action.
The class is a lot of fun. The first 1/2 hour is general aerobic warm up, with fake punches and general gymnastic skills. That leads into the middle hour of skills training. Depending on the week we will do jerks, fight choreography, gymnastics training, fall training, big falls or who knows what else. The last half hour is always a brutal crossfit style workout. Everyone in the class is awesome, friendly, playful and helpful. I know that if I want to learn anything, I can go up to whoever it is knows how to do it and ask, and they will attempt to show me.
I figured out a long time ago that I can’t workout just for the sake of working out. Fitness for me has to be towards a purpose and interesting, or I loose interest really quickly. This is totally fitting the bill.
Check out some of my pictures from stunt class: http://www.nathanblackphotography.com/Sports/Stunt-Class/
If you want to come join us, check out the facebook page for the Austin Stunt Class
Me: I warned you about the beer.
Amber: Yeah, so I drank the wine.
Me: I warned you about the wine!
Amber: I warned you I was thirsty!
I’m walking up to The Liberty recently and two guys are standing on the sidewalk out front. One of them, pulls off his hoodie, and drunkly exclaims “I want to box someone.” He turns toward me and I pull back into my boxing stance.
He charges and I very clearly and calmly say “I really don’t want to do this.” He gets up to me, throws his arms wide and hugs me.
He goes on to explain that he was just drunk and rowdy and thought he wanted to fight someone. I just tell him that it was fine and he didn’t need to do that and head toward the door. His friend thanks me profusely for not clobbering him and I head in for a drink.
This blog is about my life. I know every blog sort of is, but the sole content of this is to make notes about the life I lead and post anecdotes about my experience.
I’ve spent years behind desks working in the tech industry and testing and making video games. I’m between jobs right now, and honestly, this is when I’m happiest. I am much better with money when I don’t have any. I enjoy the fruits of having a flexible life. It gives me the opportunity to say yes to what ever may come up.
In previous bouts of “under-employment” I’ve traveled the country, driven giant neon signs cross country, worked in bars, visited Burning Man, taken up photography, skating, boxing, zazen, stunt work and spent a lot of time bumming around the town.
I’m a friendly guy, gregarious even, but I fight social anxiety and self doubt. I have a lot of acquaintances, but I let very few people in close. However, if you ask the questions, I’m likely to tell you about anything you want to know.
I have been talking to some of my friends who are smart creative types, and all of them have told me to start making notes about my experiences. Since they each mentioned it to me independently, I figured it couldn’t hurt. If it is interesting to them, maybe it could be interesting to other people.
So, hello, my name is Nathan Black, and this is my life.