Saturday, December 31, 2016

Curbe Diem & Gratitude: The Story of 2016

     I’m sitting in a cafĂ©. It’s December 31, 2016. 2:46pm. I’ve mused the content of a year’s end post for a week or so, but nothing has really “grabbed me by the pussy.” Instead, I am just going to go the gestalt route, and wing it, now. Carpe Diem. We’ll come back to that. 

     Many seem to think that 2016 was bad year. Looking back on it, I don’t feel that way. Quite the opposite, actually. I had a lot of fun this year, and did a lot of things that were meaningful, even if they were not easy. What else can you really ask for? When I think back on 2016, a few things stick out in my mind, but one word hangs heavy; gratitude. More than anything else in 2016, I learned the meaning of that word. Here are a few of the reasons.


a.    Skating with friends (esp. Joe, Jason, Ben, and Todd). A lot of laughter, heckling, and fun times were had. As I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, for a long time I had removed myself from the skateboard world. Yeah, I still skated, but I was so disconnected from skate media, local events, and most of all, other skaters. That all started to slowly change in 2014, but in 2016 there was a drastic shift. And all for the better. 2016, I think, was one of the funnest years I’ve ever had on a skateboard. The last 12 months reminded me so much of how “pure” skating is, and can be. I have not had this much enjoyment from skating since 1986, when I was a 12-year-old kid, just starting out. 30 years later, we have come full circle. A lot of that is due to my skate “squad” (hate that term).  I have a lot of gratitude for all the people in my life, especially my skater friends. Thank you.

b.    No major injuries. I am also grateful that I was able to skate a lot more in 2016 than I did in 2015. Yeah, I’ve got my lingering old-man injuries (that may never fully go away), but I didn’t have any *major* injuries in 2016 that kept me off the board for months at a time.

c.    Internet Rock Stars. I also “connected” with a lot of rad skaters on the Internet…people I’ve never met in real life, and prolly never will. Despite that, those people have provided me with all types of stoke, laughter, and thought-provoking content (not to mention the stickers, zines, wheels, decks, and all sorts of neat stuff). Again, nothing but gratitude for so many of you!

d.    1 8. It is a well-known fact that I am one of the biggest Anti-Hero “fan boys” the world has ever seen. I take no shame in that—pride, if anything. It was great to see both Brian Anderson “come out,” and to see him end up on Anti-Hero. Long-term readers of this blog will understand how meaningful all of that was on a personal level. I couldn’t have dreamed of something more perfect. The sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, political/social aspects of AH have always amazed me. Even more so this year, with so much going down.  

e.    Max Hesh. A good skate shop is not just a retail outlet, it is a community center. Boston is lucky to have a shop like this, and I am very fortunate to have become good personal friends with the owner. 

Time With My Parents

A lot people died in 2016. A lot people younger than me. A lot people younger than my parents. It could be any of us, at any time. Combined with my own aging, the mass deaths of 2016 really helped me put it all in perspective. At this point, I consider time my biggest gift, and what I have left of it to skate, enjoy the world, and enjoy time with people I care about. My parents are going to turn 70 in 2017. They are old, and frail. To be crass, they could "check-out" at any point now. For certain, I don’t have too much time left with them, and I have learned to appreciate the time I *do* have with them all the more. The same holds true for every moment I have on my skateboard.

My Job
I have a job I love going to, and co-workers who make me laugh and smile. Too many to name. You know who you are. I am grateful to all of you.   

Just before I started writing all this, I saw a New Year’s Post on the Smelly Curb Instagram feed. “Curbe Diem.” Possibly the best two words ever written, on so many levels. The Curbe Diem concept ties in with so much of this year, and so much this post--I can’t think of a better end 2016, or this entry, or as a better way to usher in 2017 than with those words “Curbe Diem.”

Here are few photos of me, and friends, from 2016.

Jason, at Malden.

Ben, at the barrier.

Todd, at Plymouth DIY.

Joe, B/S Smith at the barrier.

Me, Smtih Grind.

Me, B/S Blunt at the barrier.

Me, under the 1 8, sitting in an abandoned chair, and along side the devil.

Me, Tail Block.

Me, Crail Wallride.

Me, F/S Hurricane.

Me, F/S something or another.

Slappy Andy, Jason, and Dan at The Crust Belt.

Jonathan, F/S Pivot at Plymouth DIY.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Der Winter Ist Angekommen.

Der Winter ist angekommen. Everything sounds more ominous in German (Winter has arrived).

Winter has arrived. Temps finally dropped into the 30s this week. Real feel was 17 degrees last night. The first real snow is supposed to be coming in two days. Winter is notoriously bad in New England. Being a skateboarder during dark months is always a challenge. Not only is it cold, but there is the sand. And salt. They put it down in the roads, streets and parking lots. It gets everywhere, and does not get cleaned up until the spring, usually in April. Nightmare. The broom, the parking garage, and lots of layers are winter skater’s friend. And I haven't even mentioned the snow, ice, and sleet yet. Yeah, there are indoor parks, but they are far away, crowded in winter, and I’ve *never* liked the atmosphere of indoor parks—I just would much rather be outside. 

The mini-half is much easier to shovel out than the entire street course. In early 2016 I shoveled it, and a path, at a local park.  
 I shouldn’t complain much. All of October and November were above normal temps (much like most of the world now is). It didn’t rain much. There was a drought, actually. We had a really good run this summer, and fall. But now it will be below freezing for a few months. It is harder to move in winter because of wearing more layers, and feet go numb. Everything feels sluggish, and takes more effort. It takes longer to get warmed-up (in every meaning of the word). Under Armour cold gear. Winter beanies. Sweat shirts. Thick gloves. Face masks. Cold toes. Slams that hurt more. Chapped lips. All the hallmarks of skating in New England winter.  

Shit got crazy in 2015. I biked home from work that night. 5 miles. Went skating the next day, when it warmed up to -5 degrees.  There is a fine line between hardcore, and stupid. I am way over on the stupid side.

 As a kid I used to skate all winter in my parent’s basement. There wasn’t much room, but there was space for a tiny ¼ pipe, a make shift curb (stall tricks only, no room for moving grind/slides), and slow moving flatland. If I lived in the suburbs, I would still do that, even at the age of 42. An apartment in the big city, however, doesn’t lend itself to well to basement skating. No question, I skate less in the winter. Always have. Always will. The weather just complicates things. People in the south, south west, and California don’t realize how good they have it. It is unfathomable to think that I could skate year-round in “warm” weather.

In some respects, I welcome the winter, especially this one, and to the fact that I won’t be skating as much. I’ve been pretty banged up this summer and fall. Old-man problems with tendonitis in my knee, and Achilles. I hope that less time on the board will help with recovery. It’s just too hard to NOT skate during the nice weather, which certainly doesn’t help things heal-up as quickly as they could/should. Like much in life, winter can be a mixed blessing. I just hope this one ends quickly, and without too much snow, or super cold weather. Onwards we go into the cold darkness.