Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Kids In the Parking Lot

Last week, on Nov 14th, was the long awaited opening of the Boston’s mega skate park. 15+ years in the planning, 4.5 million dollars, 40,000 square feet, 3 bowls, huge street area, etc. Tony Alva, Ray Barbee, Andy MacDonald, and others were on hand for this historic event. I saw some rad skating go down, but the coolest thing I’ve seen in 30 years of skating happened right before I left. It was something that most people wouldn’t have even noticed, and if they had, they probably would have scoffed at it. Non-skaters certainly would have. 

Skateboarding is becoming more “accepted” in common society. A park like this never would have happened 20 years ago. In 2015 we see a lot giant corporations entering the skateboard market. There are non-skater owned chain “skate shops” at the local mega mall. Adidas. Nike. Street League. Skaters ringing the closing bell on Wall St. The renewed push for skateboarding in the Olympics. Etc. For a long time skateboarding was very much an “outsider” activity. Be it a white suburban punk, an inner-city hip-hop kid, an artist, or metal head, to be a skater required you to be, on some level, “confrontational” with society. Now things seem a bit different. Many fear that with the sanitization of skateboarding via Big Corporation, Big Money, and Olympic status, that some part of skateboarding will “die.” Now that Boston (and many other cities) has a giant skate park, will going to the park become almost the same as going to the baseball field for “practice?” Will skateboarding become as mundane, and “safe,” as baseball, football, and basketball? For some, it might. And that is great. More power to them. Others shudder at the thought. However, what I saw on opening day, just as I was about to leave, was an affirmation that the heart of skateboarding would never change.

There, in the parking lot, rather than skating in the 40,000 square foot park, a few kids were skating a simple, little, curb. I couldn’t but help think of John Lucero, getting kicked out of Skate City, and skating the curbs outside the park. I saw these kids, and smiled. It was so…pure. A tear almost came down my face. I’m sure others would have seen this, and thought, “Dumb-ass kids come to a 4.5 million dollar park just to skate a curb…just like the one in front of their house.” The shinning example those kids illuminated is that no matter what carrot is placed before skaters, be it corporate sponsorship, Olympic gold, or a brand new, massive, skate park, there will always be those who buck the system, and follow their own path, and do things on their own terms. There will always be skaters running wild in the streets. Even in the shadow of greater things, there are those who will still rebel, and enjoy the skating a curb. The future of skateboarding looks quite different than it did years ago, but it also looks quite good.

Below is a photo of those kids, passing on a subtle, but very profound lesson for all who care enough to see it; The bling doesn't matter; skating does.

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