Jason Greendyk: The Apple Juice
I never thought these words would escape me in this permutation: it appears that Jason Greendyk is the Allen Ginsberg of rollerblading. Greendyk’s The Apple Juice is a dreamy, sprawling epic poem about the unique and overlooked sport of rollerblading. Spliced with color photographs, The Apple Juice fervently explores a world whose inhabitants grind along the rails of a broken down east coast, run from the cops, and become their own gods. Greendyk writes, “[Rollerblading] is an act of creation, and an act of freedom…that is, it is to play God, to create something out of nothing.”
In The Apple Juice, we find ourselves submerged in what feels like an urban wasteland. Greendyk, a life-long blader and poet, lives in Jersey City, “on the fringe of the ruins of industry,” and this quality makes itself apparent in his work. Allusions within the first few pages hint at local Jersey spots—“Riverside Hill’s steep dirt rails,” “Cross the GWB / To lurch the fine dining cliffesque slopes of Edgewater.”
While The Apple Juice exposes us to the unique subculture of the wheel-footed, the manner in which Greendyk chooses to write these poems is additionally intriguing. The language used in the book was intended to tie “the loose strands of language into knots, yet maintain their identity, as is the current state of cultural diversity, and tend towards a united existence, bridging gaps of class in its numerous denominations.” But the piece seems to fluctuate between the colloquialism of a teenage boy and the verbosity of a highfalutin beatnik: “Fuck man it’s all for the sun’s rising in love at the sun’s setting in hate.”
However, when we comb through the expanse of The Apple Juice, we are left with nuggets of insight and a new kind of truth. One of these truths seems to be that it often takes courage to do the things that we love, and that this is particularly relevant for the sport of rollerblading. “We are the pussiest men of all you see … Fighting for acceptance … This acceptance is being drowned / We need air.”
Many moments within its pages are big and brave; ultimately, The Apple Juice calls out to us in its own way and shows us how we can sculpt our lives into meaning and, barring the cliché, to grab life by the blades. It keeps us guessing—it is injected with the kind of youth that both alienates us and draws us in, that at some moments feels grandiose but at others is truly poignant.