Frank Stoner / July 11th, 2012 / Blogs
Second Place: Defenestration, Style and Downfall

This is a very strange topic to take up, especially after writing a whole piece on the complications and ills of violence.

It might seem like a huge contradiction on my part, but hopefully it’ll bear out.

Okay, so, here we go.

There have been a few instances of extraordinary violence in history that put a certain smile on my face, a glint in the eye and a calm feeling of satisfaction and warm fuzziness.

Here’s a picture of a guy called Peter Ramus.

I don’t like him at all. He’s dead. He died a long time ago, and I’m happy about it.

Here’s what happened to him. On a warm summer evening in Paris on the 23rd of August, 1572, he was murdered in a very bad way. A crazed group of Catholics committed a series of targeted assassinations against certain members of another group of Christians called Huguenots in an event that’s called the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Ramus was among those assassinated.

Accounts vary, but some versions of history suggest that Ramus had a hook plunged into his stomach prior to being thrown out of a high window. The hook would have been tied to a rope and anchored to something sturdy.

The idea is that the rope runs out of length before you make it to the ground and the hook rips out your guts somewhere in the middle of your fall.

It’s like an extra “fuck you” to somebody you want to murder in the worst possible way.

Anyway, with or without the hook, the act of murdering somebody by throwing his (or her) ass out a window is called “defenestration.” It comes from the Latin, “fenestra,” which means window, but the word for the violent technique wasn’t coined until around 1620 (for the event known as the Defenestration of Prague).

So defenestration literally means to de-window a motherfucker.

The first known occasion of this was when the biblical Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal (King of Tyre—modern day Lebanon), was murdered by defenestration after being accused of being a false prophet. For a lot of people, that was the moment when a need for Feminism began. I would bet it was needed earlier than that, but whatever. Anyway, Jezebel didn’t get the hook, but her murderers left her corpse in the street for weeks to let it rot and be eaten by dogs.

If you’re looking for a more contemporary application of this tried-and-true method of horrific murder, watch this 18 second video clip taken from the 2001 movie Hannibal:


Hardcore shit, man.

Anyway, the reason I’m so gleeful about Peter Ramus’s defenestration has everything to do with rhetoric and absolutely nothing to do with religion.

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Discussion / Second Place: Defenestration, Style and Downfall

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  • Billy - July 12th, 2012

    Frank, spot-on with stylistic mimicry being confused for good skating in hipstertatpants2012. We were doing this 10+ years ago, but as you point out, copying alone was not confused for badass skating: it was clearly jocking. Petty clones were teased (not praised) for arm cocking. Does Bourdieu’s taste fit into this observation? Is it ironic that older, maybe wiser, more socially and economically mobile participants trend away from what’s now tasteful?

    Good analysis laced with useful bits of theory explained for the unaware blader as usual.

  • Frank Stoner - July 12th, 2012

    Wow, thanks Billy! I really appreciate you taking the time to both read and comment. It’s nice to get feedback and it’s nice to keep the conversation going. So thanks for both!

    Imitation is definitely a topic I’d like to take up at greater length, and like style, it has a parallel in rhetoric too. For ages (and I mean AGES) imitation was the primary mode of rhetoric education. They would literally make you copy texts word for word (and imitate the handwriting too!) until you could imitate or impersonate the style of the person you’d been copying.

    Rollerbladers don’t necessarily practice it in the same exact way, though I’ve definitely played a game of S.K.A.T.E. where the game was to do a topsoul “like Jon Julio” or a fishbrain “like Eric Schrijn”. There’s clearly a lot of jocking going on as well, sometimes on purpose, sometimes a little bit more subconsciously.

    As far as Bourdieu, I would think that the teasing has more to do with symbolic power, where the person doing the teasing would be putting down the imitator as a means to show him that he’s “faaar away from being at the top” as someone like Petty was back in the day.

    As far as the older guys “nowadays” not following the same trends as the younger guys, my bet would be simply that they’re following earlier trends or they’re trying to fit in with a slightly different group of peers. People tend to become more moderated and less extreme as they get older, so the kinds of clothes they wear, for instance, would predictably be somewhere in between the crazy JNCO’s some guys used to wear and the “painted on” look that’s fashionable at the moment.

    When it comes to economics and taste, I think it would be safe to say that the “older guy’s” values are changing quite a bit, too, so that the respect they’re looking for has to do with getting a professional job, or getting a bank loan, or car loan, or whatever. It’s the same behavior, just a different set of people they have to mesh with or gain approval from.

    Thanks again for your great thoughts and comments!

  • MindGameInfocus - Jack J.G.R - July 26th, 2012

    with the act of imitation in the present day and past of rollerblading personally it serves as a means of teaching the “noob” the mechanics/movement required to learn a trick and execute it… and then perfect it , and as time passes and progression is achieved , you would with understanding steer away from imitating a favourite pro.. to develop personal unique style and as you have written stener , an umberella filled with variety of types sustains every type of viewer and the skater enthusiast in keeping interest stable and strengthened… , i like what colin and sean kelso have to offer but it isnt the standard , then theres chris Haffey , D. George who are some of the BIG stunt linked with smooth linked tricks and Richie Eisler with his great use of obsticles with smoothness… lets consider he is mmm in his 30.? , in any situation within industry and image and the rawness that is rollerblading we want variety , innovation and combination and tweaking of what we do.. is sustainability from every which way…. another subject id like to see views on is public advertisement and united initiative to promote in a constructive way… i see some of that being done within NASS , NL , Nokia Fiss …. but i mean creating more deliberate ways of involving the public as not just viewer.. as well as having a great competition going to give a taste of the best.. winterclash definatly showed effort in bringing the outsider eye into our world… what would the brands and teams need to do next to step up the promotion of the sport? thoughts.. as well as US..

  • Frank Stoner - July 26th, 2012

    Hey Jack, thanks for your comments, man. I think you raise some very interesting points. The last idea you touched on is a very good one and it’s something that I plan to address on this blog sometime in the next few weeks or so. As far as promotion of the sport, I think that something needs to be said to a number of the companies out there who sponsor “flow” and “am” riders largely at the rider’s expense. The skaters get some free product and the occasional trip somewhere (or tour), but I’m not totally sure how sustainable it is to have the “lower level” riders paying their own way. What’s more important, is that behind every up-and-coming skater is a best friend, roommate, or homie who absorbs a huge amount of cost buying and securing all the fancy camera equipment necessary to keep filming and making edits for the flow (or AM) rider getting his 5 free pairs of skates per year. I think we should all take more seriously the nature of this disparity, and also look at who is gaining access and respect as a result. It seems to me that a better model would be to have something like “mini-teams” or two-person rider situations where some effort is made to acquire things necessary for the promotion (and continuation) of skating media. Personally, I think the guy filming the flow rider’s sections deserves a free pair of skates here and there too, and I also think more should be done by the companies to help secure camera- and editing-related resources for the people doing all the legwork. They are, in a certain way, PAYING for the possibility of rollerblading’s continued existence.

    Thanks so much for your comment, I’ll be sure to revisit your remarks when I draft the post about this topic.

  • Billy - August 7th, 2012

    Yo Frank, sadly I think you’re right about style being reducible to a top down reification of power, and it’s a passive process, because it’s just fashion. Only, blading hasn’t been around long enough to solidify a very nuanced or lasting style.

    The same issue exists in figure skating, which has a much longer-lived history, where style is referred to as “artistry”. A specific body type, the right outfit, and the right music often puts one skater above another at competitions and in general. I think it’s no coincidence that rollerblading is looking more and more like figure skating.

  • Frank Stoner - August 8th, 2012

    Hey Billy!

    I think you’re right on the money about style often being a reification of power, but I would add that there have been, historically, a number of rollerbladers well known for outstanding style who chose not to make a power grab of it. Erik Burke comes to mind. Back in the day his style was legendary, but he just wasn’t the sort of guy to demand a lot of limelight and enforce his influence—which in a way, is a certain kind of style in itself. I’d be inclined to call Burke’s behavior “with grace.”

    Your second point is very well taken too, and, to me, it points back to something in rhetoric known as the “form/content split.” The form/content split is an age-old debate about whether style exists independently of “substance.” People have staked their careers (or lives on it, as was the case with Ramus) on it, and it’s a debate that has been going on in the field of rhetoric for more than two thousand years.

    In rollerblading, I would argue that much of what might fall under the umbrella of “style” is overlooked. For instance, “grinding” still accounts for more than half of what we do (and see in videos) and that’s a certain kind of choice that is, in itself, a branch of style—“style” as CHOICE, and in your words, Style as Fashion (I’m assuming, there, that you aren’t just using “fashion” to mean “clothes”).

    To that point, I would say that we 1) still spend most of our time grinding and 2) (concerning clothes) still wear jeans and t-shirts—just slightly different ones that we used to.

    To get back to “fashion” as something other than “mere dress,” I would say that “fashion” usually means something more like “custom” or “way of doing things.” In that sense, we have a lot of style that hasn’t really changed at all and is very much a part of our constitution. Certain etiquette (like inside handshakes), certain language (like words for “excellent”: sick, dope, rad, etc.) and certain choices (skating on staircases, rails, skateparks, etc.) are all very well established and long-lived norms in rollerblading, so I can’t necessarily agree about rollerblading not being around long enough to have those things.

    I do, however, agree very much that more talk is going on relating to figure skating, and more and more people seem to be snooping around the periphery of that sport for some guidance and (at least prospective) influence.

    As a kind of personal anecdote, I would say that I—and only a few others that I know of—still ride on rockered skates, because I came to rollerblading through ice hockey. My wheel set up is 54,56,56, 54 (or sometimes 54,57,57,54) which comes directly from ice skating. So your last point is very certainly NOT lost on me!

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