Nick Riggle is a 36-year-old former X Games inline skater who now teaches philosophy at the University of San Diego. His new book — On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck — feels like it has a foot in both worlds.
He explores the emergence of “cool” in the 1930s, the cultural transformations of the 1960s, and the history of the High Five as he argues that awesome people are those who create the “social openings” that foster connection and community in our increasingly individualistic culture.
Those who suck? They’re the ones who close the door on social openings. The book is part how-to, part ethics deep-dive, and wholly original.
He’ll be at Warwick’s on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
UNION-TRIBUNE: What do you love most about your craft?
NICK RIGGLE: It depends on what project I’m working on, whether it’s a philosophy paper for an academic journal or the novel I’ve been writing for years. Each puts very different demands on my imagination and time. For a book like (“On Being Awesome”), there’s a certain pleasure in thinking about how you write about something for a very wide and textured audience. There are just so many different types of people out there who in one way or another connect with the idea of being awesome but we’re not all going to connect in the same way. So in general when it comes to writing, I love being in this imaginative space and taking up the challenge of expressing what I find there to different types of readers.
Besides books, name a cultural or artistic endeavor that inspires you here in San Diego.
It’s hard to answer that question because there are so many. One thing I’ve been inspired by is Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan, the emerging art and community space. They do a lot of great shows and the people working there are fantastic and they’re open to other members of the community coming in and using the space. I find myself down there a fair amount just checking out what they are up to.
Another huge thing for me is food. I’m exploring food from Convoy to Tijuana and everywhere in between. San Diego offers so much of that. And there’s the emerging wine scene in San Diego, taking inspiration from the winemakers in the Valle de Guadalupe. From the Rose Wine Bar in South Park to Vino Carta in Little Italy to the recent Nat Diego festival of natural wines — there’s a lot there and I love being a part of it.
Is there an artistic or cultural event that you’re looking forward to this season?
Well, I’m pretty excited about my book launch at Warwick’s on the 25th. But seriously, I’m so busy with the book and with teaching, I don’t have a whole lot lined up. I am excited to go see Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile at the House of Blues (Oct. 11). They are two singer/rock stars I really love. It will be fun to see them.