Posts Tagged ‘Burnside’

The Great And Secret Show

August 26, 2018

Savor it — the feeling of place, and knowing that one fulfills an important role in this cosmic AD&D 3rd Edition game that continues to unfold like a customized DM screen. In Western Hemisphere cities, the skateboarder takes on the form of an elongated dowel, with a flat head and bristles, a broom pushed across the urban plazas and beneath the highway overpass, shaping DIY transitions and waxing ledges and in the process sweeping aside society’s even less-desirables, the crack addict, the homeless alcoholic. Ocean Howell, in an interview following the inaugural ‘Pushing Boarders’ conference, describes the concept thusly:

The one I was thinking about was Burnside: that’s a classic one. So they started pouring concrete up to the pillars underneath the bridge and then the city (the Oregon Department of Transportation more precisely) comes and says: ‘what the fuck are you guys doing? We’re knocking this down. This is unauthorised.’ And all the surrounding property owners said, ‘don’t you dare! This was an open-air drug market and a big problem. These guys are scrounging, drinking beers and shouting but they’re fine.’ People’s cars aren’t getting broken into, it’s less threatening on the streets because you know the lower rung of people who are really hard up and so therefore commit actual crimes, they’ve been scared out. So that was the rationale by which they allowed Burnside to remain. Not because they were trying to support youth. I mean that was a supplementary benefit.

WH: You think their PR people tried to spin it like: ‘yeah we’re going to help the kids’?
No, it’s to help property value. And that is a tool in the tool kit of urban planners in the United States now. And they know; if you get one alone in a room they’ll be perfectly frank about it. Why do they site parks under bridges? Because that’s always where you get a rung below you, on the social scale… Right? And I mean there’s a good case to be made for doing that though… It’s very complicated because you know what skate culture is like and especially at a park… It’s a supportive community for kids who might otherwise end up in that situation. In Portland there was other places where they were proposing to put parks and the homeless advocates didn’t want it because they knew that that meant moving out their clients. They knew that was a tactic.

Last year, Ricky Oyola described similarly summed up the swapping out of various human classes:

‘If these little kids aren’t scared, why should I be scared; I’m a 30-year-old man coming home from work.’ Once it’s safe for young skaters, it’s safe for young male office workers. Once it’s safe for male office workers, it becomes safer for female office workers, then for older folks, and so on.”

Where does this leave the broom? Once refuse has been satisfactorily brushed aside, research shows that brooms typically are placed inside a “broom closet,” which The Free Dictionary defines as “a small room for storing brooms and other cleaning equipment.” In our day to day lives, we have knowed these “small rooms” as skateparks, safely fenced enclosures in which skills can be practiced in a structured and professionally designed environment, properly zoned, with the appropriate payments made to the planners, designers and contract players. The “other cleaning equipment” can be understood to refer to scooter kids and 2018’s surviving rollerbladers.

A bleak fate, even if bands of skateboarders were to somehow collectively embrace their broominess and enlist themselves in service to municipalities for targeted DIY spotbuilding/undesirable relocation campaigns, compensated with golden doubloons and five to ten years’ worth of footage, photos and good times with the homies. But as with any human endeavour, in the metagalactic sense, this all is only temporary.

Just as we now entrust computers to handle many of the complex and mundane details behind everyday life — processing financial transactions; opening doors for the baggage-laden, the armless and the just plain lazy; milking cows; flying fighter jets — it’s reasonable to assume that machines shall assume more difficult tasks over time, possibly including gourmet meal preparation and navigating crab-fishing vessels. Where this leaves humankind is less clear. Deeply rose-tinted glasses may be required to envision programming and electronic maintenance jobs replacing one-for-one those automated in truck-driving, lumberjacking and salesmaking.

And the brooms? Similar to how homo sapiens has dotingly organized the world’s less-dominant species into a system of parks, preserves and zoos, charitable post-singularity AIs could adopt a similar stance, repurposing established cities’ and towns’ increasingly antiquated infrastructure as free-range habitats for humans. Just as human-run animal parks strive to replicate natural environments, it is doubtless somewhat potentially possible that computers will seek to recreate ‘natural’ human surroundings and experiences such as malls, botanical gardens and monster truck rallies. In this instance, the skateboarder sub-class likely would be released from skateparks’ artificial approximation of real street spots, freed to interact and butt up against various other groups carrying on the roles of property-owners, security guards, the homeless and so on.

With several generations now raised within a ten-minute SUV ride to the nearest municipally funded skatepark, can they or their parents be persuaded to resist the allure of additional professionally poured concrete without corresponding social services and funding directed toward those in need — who may already have been shifted out of sight and mind thanks to earlier spatial realignments? Was Anti-Hero’s ‘eviction’ series a nose thumbed against gentrification or a winking acknowledgement of the company’s own role in the greater scheme? Did Turbo predict the joy, frustration and inner turmoil of such societal brooming in his iconic ‘Breakin’ scene three and a half decades ago?

9. Chet Childress – “God Save the Label”

December 22, 2009

Flameboy to the Wet Willy that was Lance Mountain’s Flip video section, Chet Childress’ hard-luck tale of broken teeth and soggy pinatas teaches us that there’s little love to be found even in a state controlled by aging hippies and home to free skateparks built by harmonious units of best friends. Here we find Childress zipping switch-stance through Burnside’s humps and bumps and crunching coping, but the part also functions as a comment on video production at the height of the Great Recession, keeping the filming trips to a cross-town minimum and saving pennies that wealthier companies might have spent on a color picture. All’s we’re saying is if you’re likely to do most of your business in concrete parks anyway there’s less photogenic locales you could select, and the bent-arm bro’s coping-pop remains at an all-time high.

Institutionalized

July 30, 2009

cuckoosnest
You don’t have to be crazy to write a skateboard blog but it sure helps! =)

Interesting bookend to yesterday’s posting comes to us today from Rupert Murdoch’s wood-pushing beat reporter Conor Dougherty, who has a rundown on the state of play in Portland Oregon where skateboarding has corrupted “the system,” as opposed to the other way around:

As skateboarding exploded, Portland’s skaters began lobbying for more parks, and for a say in how they were built. One was Tom Miller, who had moved from Seattle to attend law school and later started a non-profit organization called Skaters for Portland Skateparks. The city later set up a skatepark committee that included Mr. Miller, Mr. Dahlgren and Dean Dickinson, a BMX bike rider. The panel pushed for concrete parks designed by skaters, rather than the plastic obstacles many cities were buying from playground equipment companies more familiar with swingsets than skateparks.

But the group also suggested something so bold Mr. Miller says he was almost embarrassed to propose it: a citywide skatepark system. Mr. Miller’s skatepark lobbying led to a volunteer position with the campaign of Sam Adams, who was running for city commissioner. Mr. Adams won the election, and Mr. Miller became an insider: He was offered a job as chief of staff. A few months later Portland’s city council approved a plan to create the skatepark system.

The “skatepark system” is intriguing to me; I’ve always thought personally that far more practical for cities of size, rather than building destination-type parks on the outskirts of town or in some bizarre, hard-to-reach location, would be to make legal spots scattered throughout various neighborhoods. Like a couple flatbars alongside a basketball court somewhere, a wallride spot in the alley behind some city building, legal ledges in schoolyards, a miniramp in the park, etc. But then again I have lots of other stupid ideas like taking spots people are already skating and stop wasting cop wages chasing people around all day. Or getting reincarnated as a grackle in order to shit on haters of various types and descriptions.

Anyway, the WSJ article correctly points out that skateboarding’s subversion/infiltration/sliding in thru the side door of Portland city government was aided by the widely believed fact that the place is run by a load of hippies, or so is my understanding. It’s also interesting to note that this has all taken place in the backyard of Nike Inc., whose interest in skateboarding has probably risen steadily alongside the number of parks in town; somebody more energetic and talented than your BTO staffer could probably make an interesting graph or perhaps a cheerily coloured pie chart to demonstrate this, but if wishes were ponies, well, there you are.

Another interesting sidebar to the Portland story is that as skateboarders have gained civic clout, the BMXers are starting to feel disenfranchised, since none of the power-broker skateboard types want to see their tax dollar-funded ledges all chunked up from pegs:

“It’s almost like skaters are the cops now,” says Mr. Dickinson, the BMXer.

Youch. The irony, she burns. On one hand, the BMXers have a fair point, but on the other hand, now that skateboarders have paved the way* they could go ahead and find their own city government to fill with various moles and rogue agents in fingerless gloves and Fox hats. You know, the Cuyahoga River is just begging for one of those big dirt jumps.

*delicious punnery sort of intended

Survival of the fittest

August 26, 2008


It’s not unusual

When people talk about how it’s good for skating to get as big as possible—and usually these are the people who have a vested interest in selling skateboard products to the sons of Joe Sixpack, of course—they talk about how it’s more money in pros’ pockets, more support for skateparks, and more recognition for skating in general. Never mind that this money probably finds its way into the pocket of a pro who’s already leasing a luxury SUV (as opposed to your Joey Peppers or John Igeis), or that the new skatepark is yet another modular three-foot-high tennis court conversion, and you’re still getting kicked off the local manual pad by a sweaty, moustachioed fellow in a fake cop car who angrily refers to your sweet ride as “them rollerboards.”

Separate from all of this are the little indignities suffered when this skateboarding way of life, if you can call it that, is squinted at, hmmm’ed over and sadly misinterpreted by any number of parties who wouldn’t bother if not for the prospect of a quick dollar. With that in mind, behold the Men’s Fitness guide to five of the best skateparks our nation has to offer. Wouldn’t you know it, they manage to name-check Tony Hawk and the X-Games in the first sentence.

Men’s Fitness on the Vans park in Orange: “Don’t worry, if you forget your board you can rent one for just five bucks a session.”

On the “Louisville Extreme Park”: “The park is also open to in-line skaters and bicycle enthusiasts.”

On the Vans park in, uh, Orlando this time: “If you need a break from all that skating, there is an arcade area with the latest games.”

On the Kona skatepark in Jacksonville: “15,000-square-foot X-game style course with metal surface.”

On the Encinitas YMCA: “It’s not unusual to see guys like Bucky Lasik, Pierre-Luc Gagnon, and Shaun White practicing their moves at this extreme sport Mecca. That’s because the Ecke features one of the greatest vertical ramps in the country. In fact, it’s the same one that was used at the 2004 X Games.”

Coming next month: Our “extreme 15” list of must-haves for an afternoon BBQ/session at Portland’s notorious “Burn Side” skatepark, including Lil’ SmokeyTM grill (don’t forget a couple packs of Ballpark FranksTM for the bros!), ErgoLoungerTM Aluminum Portable Chaise LoungeTM, syringes, and a “grip” of PowerBarsTM and PowerAdeTM!