Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Paper Shredding

By Sam Jemielity

JANUARY 26, 1998: 

Bill Kerig
(Villard, 187 pages, $12.95)
In "It's a Slippery Slope," Spalding Gray wrote about how learning to ski got him through a midlife crisis. Reading "The Snowboarder's Total Guide to Life" is enough to make anyone over 25 feel old.

Although the Olympics now include snowboarding, the sport is as much about marketing as medaling. Bill Kerig's book skips the mechanics of negotiating a slope on a snowboard, not that the contributing editor at Skiing and Snowboard Life couldn't teach most boarders a lesson or two. Instead, Kerig delivers a Preppy Handbook anatomizing what he calls "Singleplankus ripthehillicus": the clothes, the lingo, the proper 'tude.

Snowboarder style overlaps much of the current retro fad: the Bradys are hip, as is Wayne Newton , "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Star Wars" (maybe because of Luke Skywalker's baggy pants). Throw in a slight urban, hip-hop influence -- there's a photo of Snoop Doggy Dogg in here -- and some grease and you've got the snowboarder look.

At times, Kerig tries too hard to be funny, inventing snowboarding creation myths and such. In the most interesting parts of the book, he stays closer to reality, listing essential reading material ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," porn) or cool snowboarder shades (Boll Madness, Black Flys, Bugz Lunaz, to name a few). Armed with this information, wannabes can adopt the lifestyle without enduring the face plants and egg-beaters (head-banging, brain-scrambling falls down the mountain) that result from actually hopping on a snowboard. (Sam Jemielity)

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