"Do What You Want To."
April 2, 2014 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Dr. John Kitchin quit a medical career to pursue his passion: skating along the boardwalk of San Diego’s Pacific Beach. He calls himself “Slomo." But it's more than just a get-out-of-the-rat-race story; in the video, he has a lot to say about the neurological effects of skating as an activity.

Another Slomo sighting here.
posted by JanetLand (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting guy. Heartwarming. But, isn't it just called retirement? Apparently this has become so rare today that it warrants a special nytimes piece.
posted by dis_integration at 6:16 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wasn't going to watch (all of) it, I'll skip some, I wonder what a missed, I'll watch just a bit more--Oh hell--I am going to watch all of it. I go with heartwarming and I hope I have incorporated some of it into my life. BTW--I absolutely love retirement but I always found my work fulfilling.
posted by rmhsinc at 6:26 AM on April 2, 2014

But, isn't it just called retirement?

Or a mid-life crisis. But... Man. I thought that it must be a huge privilege to be able to start with the sports car and end up with a modest hobby and a simple happy life, but it sure looks like it works a lot better than the train wreck I've seen when people try doing it the other way around.
posted by mhoye at 6:35 AM on April 2, 2014

My morning surf spot is slightly north of Slomo's route. There are invariably a dozen or so other Slomo types milling about the Tourmo parking lot as dawn patrol creeps in to the gentleman's hour, and dozens more scattered the entire stretch of the beach from pumphouse down to the pier and on down to the roller coaster.

While I'm sure they all have heartwarming stories, there is a pervasive element of sadness to the whole scene. Old beach bum types who dropped out and are kind of weird now.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 6:44 AM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I started the video primed to grouch about another rich asshole retiring early, but I think he actually did something brave and difficult, setting aside all of the trappings of material success in mid-life.

Old beach bum types who dropped out and are kind of weird now.

I've lived in a few places populated by those people, and I'll confess to being somewhat jealous. If you can string together the income out of savings and social security and whatever, it's a pretty sweet lifestyle, certainly better than working until you are dead.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:03 AM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

I respect the choice he made (because really, it is a much better choice than remaining materialistic) but I would like to see even a hint of acknowledgement that choosing to sell off the Ferrari is an extremely privileged choice. I'll grant that he likely worked hard during his life to afford these nice trappings but scant few of us can "do what you want" as the sage 93 year old advised.

Maybe we actually have more capability to do what we want than we all realize though. If this is the message I'll take it to heart. As a person in my early 40s (shit.. when did that happen!?!) I realize I'm some distance away from doing anything like him. For damn sure I won't surround myself with material goods and work until I die, but I've known this since I was a teenager.

In some ways he makes me think of my father, who retired from a factory job at around age 55. It was early retirement, but he had a co-worker of his die of a heart attack that year and it really made him think about how he wanted to live out the rest of his life. After a year or so figuring himself out, he became an avid runner -- something he never imagined himself doing and was known as this crazy old guy who ran ~70 miles per week nearly daily around our community. Some people envied his choices, but as time goes on I respect more and more what he did.

But roller skating? To each their own, but if the guy wants to feel like he is flying he really needs to get a good road bike. That is my fitness drug of choice.
posted by dgran at 7:24 AM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm just trying to get to the end of my life without becoming an asshole again.

I have a new goal. Well. Two new goals.
posted by you must supply a verb at 7:34 AM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

There is a movie about this dude, which makes me wonder how much dropping out he did that he's got a publicist.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 AM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Watching the vid to find out more about neuro effects of skating.

Pausing to not here the date on movie is April 1 2014.

Slomo, my ass, but we will see.
posted by tilde at 8:44 AM on April 2, 2014

Okay, so I'm wrong, nyt didn't whip this up. Got through most of it. Sounds like he has some issues with floating calcium crystals. Good to know, given my propensity to head injuries.


One less asshole (depending on your pov) in the world I guess.
posted by tilde at 9:02 AM on April 2, 2014

Are people just ignoring how he was starting to suffer some peculiar - almost Oliver Sacks-worthy - problems with his eyesight & how these problems were interfering with his work as a doctor?

That seems to have been a significant catalyst for "dropping out" to become just another aging "beach bum".

I thought it was a delightful piece. I didn't view it as a criticism of all the conventionally materialistic aspects of my own existence. I viewed it as a celebration of his choices.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Pausing to not here the date on movie is April 1 2014.

I dunno about that - I can tell you I saw the movie at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival last year.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:37 AM on April 2, 2014

I like the part where he equates being cynical with being an asshole, and how many cynical/assholes there are.
posted by stbalbach at 1:12 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I spent several years in my 20s living near the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach boardwalk. For many months at a time, I was on unemployment (this was in the 70s, and my job depended on who landed the Navy contract in a particular year, so being laid off by the previous contract-holder and eventually hired by the new one was just a way of life).

I spent a lot of time riding my bike up and down that boardwalk, playing frisbee, and watching the sunset. I haven't been back in decades, and there is no way I could afford to live there now, but it doesn't look to have changed much. I do remember that I got by on very little ($175/mo for a one-bedroom apartment 100 feet from the beach, anyone?). The only real difference is that I did it when I was young, and he's doing it when he's old. I don't see why being a youthful dropped-out beach bum is inherently less "sad" or "weird" than being an old one. I think everyone should have a chance to be a dropped-out beach bum once in their life. It was an idyllic existence. Looks like it still is.
posted by caryatid at 6:22 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

His physics are a bit sketchy but his metaphysics seem to check out OK.
posted by surplus at 7:40 PM on April 2, 2014

The last time I was in San Diego I was walking around PB with my sister and she pointed and yelled 'There's Slomo!' and I went how is that a thing anyone knows and yet here we are.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 PM on April 2, 2014

Another article about Slomo, from the iamslomo website.

He apparently writes and sells his books on the boardwalk, so I'm not so sure he's retired so much as changed his lifestyle to one that allows him to skate every day on a beautiful boardwalk.

In my dreams I'm doing the same thing, then I go back to work in my cubicle.
posted by eye of newt at 9:14 PM on April 2, 2014

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