Saturday, June 04, 2005
The guy they call Oldschool rocks Beasley park like no other. Five years my senior, he rides through on his way home from work, and sometimes stops to bust a few moves. Yesterday night he showed up and skated circles around the place, dazzling the assembled Bease crew like a dancer in his prime. Other kids do a trick or two on the quarter pipe or the flat, maybe launch out of the bowl, then return to sit and look cool on the the graffiti-covered partition ledge that flanks the walkway. Oldschool hits the various features of the Bease like a demented postman on a well-practiced route, throwing down moves that most kids couldn't even name and sewing the whole spectacle together in a seamless stream of skate-consciousness. He even did some wall-ride inverts on the side of the quarter pipe, a move that I haven't seen since my old buddy Em was thrilling the chicks with his rebel ways back in high school.
Oldschool puts me to shame with his no-nonsense approach to riding. He never talks about quitting, only about getting back into shape after a winter of atrophy. He is one of the heads of the Hamilton Skateboard Association, and plays a big part in organizing the annual Beasley Skate Jam--a two day affair that sees skaters assembled from all over Ontario to participate in the various skate-offs, free give-aways, live music, food, and plain old Thrashin'.
Yesterday night he asked if I wanted to be an instructor for the week-long skate camp coming up next month. This involves five days of traveling with kids by bus to the various outdoor skate parks in the central Ontario area, hanging out, teaching a few moves, and keeping the spirit of skate alive for the new generation. It sounds like fun to me, though yesterday's spill was giving me second thoughts. I like skating with kids, showing them the often overlooked foundational moves and passing on the history of the sport as it was shown to me by my teachers.
It seems I've spent a lot of energy in my life refusing things; rebelling, resisiting, holding out. I didn't want to get swallowed up by the mainstream, lost in the gears--and negation can be a way of clearing space for oneself. But, like anything held on to past its rightful time, it can become a prison. And, as Leonard Cohen's demonic character F says in Beautiful Losers, Who am I to refuse the universe?