DUST AND LOATHING IN IRAQ
“I cannot properly explain myself in this humidity”
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Lung choking dust storms, mind numbing heat and constant frustration are a daily occurrence when serving in Iraq. Funny thing is this is my chosen profession and I did sign the bottom line, so here I am. We can argue all day long about the politics behind this but really where does that get us. People always ask me what I think about this, and the truth is it doesn’t matter what I think about it because no matter what I think, I have agreed to do this job. I have been a skater since 1984 and a soldier since 1997, seldom do the two callings cross paths but I have noticed at times that viewing the world through a skater’s eyes makes it more interesting. For instance Saddam seemed to like to have his military build pyramid shaped concrete bunkers ranging from 10-40 feet high and in all sorts of configurations. Its funny how having a humvee under you while traveling off road kind of feels like a giant board, granted this board included a machine gun. I did not bring a board on this trip and I am very much regretting that. Last time I was here we had a board (courtesy of SPC Tosh) and some flat concrete. I may have to embrace some of the flat land street / freestyle tricks I have missed out on while on these deployments. I am a long way from the pristine NW round walls, and even farther removed from my old stomping grounds of the Maryland shore. I did have pics of me cheesin with STEAM stickers while in Iraq but my computer became a casualty of this war (the humanity!!!!!!) and they are lost forever. There are however some very strategically placed STEAM stickers in the Al Anbar Province. I did not witness any local skate action but I have seen articles about Iraqi skaters, and a developer in Baghdad who plans a skate park as part of public space. I can’t wait for the day we see pro demos in Mosul. I can’t help but wonder what the Arabic take on skateboarding might be.
Thank you all for the support especially Jason.
Jim Byrd Salisbury MD 1986
Jim Byrd Frontside RnR
Cheney Park, Tacoma WA
Jim is the one without the Mustache!
I met Jim via The House of Steam and we corresponded quite a bit..England to Iraq. He had mentioned growing up skating in MD and was aware of Team Steam, The Barn and the skate scene that stretched from NY to VA. We became fast friends. Corresponding with someone while at war is a unique situation especially in this digital world. My parents generation had a lot of experience in this department staying in contact with my Father who served 20 months of combat service in Vietnam. It seemed to me normalcy is the key to it all for both parties. In that vein I attempted to get a custom THOS deck out to Jim and his troop but I found that the size restrictions on mail into Iraq is very, very small…Letters only really. I thought of pulling a Radar O’Reilly (M*A*S*H, he mailed a jeep home piece by piece) but even the smallest component was over the size and weight limit. In the end a big fat stack of Steam Stickers made it to our boys and were enjoyed by all. As Jim mentioned this original article from 8 months ago or so (along with Sticker pics!) and our ability to communicate became a casualty of war. Thankfully it was only a computer (windows as well, time for a MAC!) and not Jim! I have to say those pics would have been a great addition to the archive. Articles can be re-written but no need to head back for any snap shots!
Welcome home my BRUTHA!! Nice Work!
I believe Jim will be in and around WA for a bit say hey in the comment section or hit him up on FB I am sure he is up for a skate at the local.