Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I finally made it to a meeting of the Steeltown Skateboard Assembly. It was held at a local skateshop which, gloriously, was air-conditioned. I sat there listening to the proceedings, framed by a wall of absurdly expensive shoes and flanked by a tantalizing array of fresh skateboard decks. My own deck is pretty worn down, but the fellow sitting beside me--another instructor for the upcoming skateboard camp--had an antique deck from the eighties that was in an even more dilapidated state. As the skate camp is a volunteer gig, it would be nice if the city supplied the instructors with some new equipment, but I'm sure we'll make do with rolling 2-by-4s if necessary.

The weather has been way too hot and my foot has been sore, so I took my bicycle to the meeting. When I stopped at the Bease on the way back home some out-of-towners were there, and a raging session was developing. These guys were good riders, skating with an aggressive energy that showed no mercy to the new grinder box that everyone agrees was built just a little too high. Every skater's style is different, but one fellow in particular had a focused animality--an intensity to his stare that wasn't so much frightening as sublime, like watching some kind of bird of prey alight upon water to snatch up a fish.

I was glad to be boardless and part of the cheering section. No sense trying to prove myself in the midst of a fray where I couldn't have competed anyway. The game of SKATE that ensued was instructive: all the latest flips done with ninja precision--and then some. I'm still strange, but not so much a stranger now at the park. It was good to just chill out and watch instead of being caught up in the raptures of The Zone.

Lately I've been contemplating the beauty of tricks that have no name, of tricks that meld into each other in a seamless flow of skate-i-tude. There is no real name, for instance, for a kickflip-and-a-half to casper, but it's a rude move (and bad for the shins if you miss). The same goes for G-turns on the nose that turn into 306s on the tail. You don't even expect to do it, but centrifugal momentum and the counterbalance of the spinning Earth just set it up that way and you follow the lines, wherever they go.

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