Sunday, March 28, 2010

Michael Brooke: Thinking Skater's Genius


We've been trying to get an interview with Michael Brooke at Concrete Wave Magazine for some time now. Problem is, Mike has a nasty habit of typing these super-cryptic, one-to-three-word-long e-mails whenever he's replying to a question. A typical Mike e-mail might say something like, "Exactly!". Or, "Yes". Or, "Maybe". Which isn't exactly conducive to getting any sort of in-depth interview done...

Thankfully, when Mikey blogs, he actually uses a few more words. It's here that we have the best chance of seeing where his mind is spinning off to these days.

The thing about Mike is that, he is a really, really smart fellow with very deep roots in both the pastime... as well as, the industry... of skateboarding. He's respected and loved by many. And for some reasons that constantly baffle me, he's also hated by many as well. I tend to think that the reason that he's so ostracized by "the haters", is simply because he actually thinks about things. And therefore, he actually has ideas. "Thinking" and "ideas" usually not being popular amongst many skaters, of course. Nor, are they particularly embraced by many of our "Industry Insiders". Why that is the case, is again, way beyond me...

So: Mikey catches a lot of shit from the smaller-minded elements within skateboarding. In order to illustrate Mike's superior braininess, let's take a look at a few choice excerpts from a recent Mike Blog posting (Which can be seen here:,com_mojo/Itemid,108/)...

"One of the things I’ve always stressed about Concrete Wave, is that we want to be as inclusive as possible..."

And, as far as magazines go, Concrete Wave is inclusive to the extreme. Whatever sort of skateboarding you're into, there's a damn good chance that it gets coverage in CW. Which is awesome. I wish more magazines did that... and indeed, many of them used to. Why they don't anymore, is anybody's guess.

"I’ve thought about where skateboarding is, in relation to how it draws people in and how it keeps people out. Clearly, we have no problem getting attention. Many in the media love to cover skateboarding. Do they portray things accurately? I’ll leave that answer up to you. But skateboarding is perceived as something very cool by outsiders. The question about what happens when someone is actually interested in pursuing skateboarding…how are they treated?"

Yeah. Usually, not very well. Skateboarding is pretty "exclusionary" these days. If you're not in the "cool club", then you just suck, and that's all there is to it. Hey, guess what?! News Flash: We're All Dorks. You are definitely not cooler than I am, and I am definitely far dorkier than you'll ever hope to be. This putting-ourselves-on-a-pedestal bullshit can stop any day now, and I won't shed a single fucking tear over it. Good riddance...

"In today’s environment, a welcoming skate shop that embraces the grom, the skategeezer and everything else in between clearly has a better chance of survival than the closed-minded shop. The closed-minded shop is run like [a] high school clique - you know, the cool kids club, the sense of “we’re doing you a favor” [by] even letting you in here. Those shops, sadly, are still there… but, they might be finding times more difficult. Folks are voting with their wallets. By keeping people out, their plan is backfiring..."

Yeah. Tell me about it. Apparently, every skate shop in my area code subscribes to this philosophy. It sucks ass... but really, who cares?! Screw them. I mean, there's always the internet, right...? If Shops A, B, and C don't want my cash, then Mike [Hirsch] at SoCal always will. And, Hirsch is good fucking people. He treats his customers like gold. That's why, I'm happy to give him every cent that I can spare, and then some. Small companies, too... there are some kick-ass companies that are totally worth supporting. Once again: I won't be shedding any tears when this too, comes to pass...

"Which leads me to my next point. The internet is something that by its very nature, has great difficulty keeping people out. Sure, you can block an IP address... but things have a way of creating blow back. My IP address was blocked a few days ago. That’s right: Someone didn’t want me on their website..."

Seriously?! Are you fucking kidding me?! How juvenile are we, to block other skaters from our websites, because they're not "cool" enough?! I mean, come on, already. I've had a few disagreements with Mike over the years, but gawd dammit, he's always welcome to visit my website for pete's sakes. Hell: He can even come and crash on my couch, and drink all my Cokes, if he so desires. Okay: Maybe the Cokes thing is going a bit too far. He can have some of my Cokes, if he likes...

"So, to those folks who spend all their time:

1. Hating

2. Cutting down

3. Trying to destroy fellow competitors

4. Spreading lies

5. Hating some more

6. Blaming others for their misfortune

7. Keeping up barriers

8. Putting down things in skateboarding they don’t fully understand

9. Being contemptuous of other skaters that don’t ride the same equipment they do

10. Putting down skaters who don’t have what they deem “the right” shoes, or clothing, or Lord knows what…

To these people I ask : 'What has all this got you?'..."

Dude! It's all about cultivating the mega self-esteem, and raking in the big bucks, yo! Money and self-righteousness being two of the most basic and enduring founding principles that Amerika was built on, right...?!

Mike, as usual, is absolutely correct. There's no room in skateboarding for this sort of bullshit. Maybe we should all try putting what's in the best interests of skateboarding first and foremost, and maybe try putting "fluffing our own out-sized egos" in the recycle bin, where it damn well belongs.

Yeah, right. Good luck with that...


Saving Major Taylor


There's been a flurry of activity lately regarding the future of Indianapolis' skatepark(s). We here at The Solitary Life wanted to pass on what we've learned, while doing our part [whatever we can, at least] to advance the cause.

Major Taylor skatepark has been around for about twelve years now. Located near the corner of Cold Spring Rd. and 38th Street, it sits beside the Major Taylor Velodrome (a race track for bicycles). It's concrete, free to skate, and open daily from dusk until dawn. I think that it's safe to say that everyone in Indianapolis skates it at least a few times a year. Many skate it weekly, or even daily.

Online, there's a petition that anyone can sign, to advance the cause of keeping Major Taylor open. It can be found here (copy and paste into your browser):

Here's what the petition says (this will get you up to speed regarding why Major Taylor is at risk of being shut down):

"This petition is in response to the upcoming acquisition of the Major Taylor Velodrome facility and skate park by Marian College.

Indianapolis Indiana roughly has a population of approx.810,000, and is the 11th largest city in the nation. It has one and only public skate park that is in the process of being turned over to Marian College (a private school) for "management" due to the fact that the Indianapolis Parks Dept. is in a financial crisis.
The college is apparently taking over a whole sports complex, in which the skate park resides, consisting of a Velodrome, a BMX dirt track, and our lovable 15,300 square foot underdog of a skate park.

The college is focusing on the Velodrome because it has its own fixed gear bicycle racing team that it races on. Initially, the college wanted the skate park bulldozed, but the city would not relinquish that privilege.

The next request by Marian College was to charge admission to a formerly PUBLIC skate park with *NO* intent to set those funds aside for the skate park itself. After finding that they would have to get an insurance policy if the park was staffed, they decided they would want to have set hours for the skate park, which had previously been open 24 hours a day.

During those hours of operation, the skate park currently serves thousands upon thousands of users per year, sometimes hundreds a day. The skateboarder population in Indianapolis is estimated to be somewhere over 40,000 and growing, as of a 2006 census.

The park has been open since 1999/2000, and is the kingpin of the skateboarder/BMXing/rollerblading community in Indianapolis. There have been many contests, D.I.Y. events such as the Gnar-B-Q, and many skate clinics held there. The skate park keeps a lot of people happy,sane, and content, and OUT OF TROUBLE ! despite being too small, outdated, and insufficient for the growing population.

A lot of users of the park state that they tolerate the conditions merely because they have nothing else. The argument is..."why can't the college do what it will with the property, and simply leave the skate park alone and open 24hrs.

The city has been approached many times by the locals themselves wanting to donate their own blood,sweat,and tears to maintain the park, and to raise funds to keep it open and growing, only to be ignored. So to put this park in the hands of a privately run institution, with its own special interests, that has no motivation to run it, is not a solution. It is ethically and morally wrong.

All we ask is that the skate park remain PUBLIC, FREE OF CHARGE, and open 24 hours a day. There has never been a problem with this in the past 9 or so years, and we would like to keep it that way.

*Keep in mind that after you submit your signature, a donation feature pops up. That in no way is an obligation to donate money. All we need is for you to sign the petition. We would be truly grateful. Time is of the utmost essence on this one, so please go to the attached link and sign that puppy as soon as you read this.

Thank You truly,

The Skaters of Indianapolis Indiana."

A Big Day Out:


There's going to be a big, all-day session in support of Major Taylor on Saturday, April the 24th, 2010. We'll definitely be there, trying to get caught up to speed on what's going on with this whole skatepark-closing business.

For more info, check out the blog:

Meetings, and more meetings...

According to the indyskateparks blog, there's an upcoming meeting to discuss all of this stuff. Here's the info:

"Next meeting.

The next meeting we are having will be April 8th at The Earth House . We are starting at 6. Bring ideas and friends. We will talk about the 24th and the future. Come show your support for the new park.

Earth House has a coffee shop as well as a great menu.

Directions: On the corner of New York and East St. downtown Indianapolis.."

We'll try to be there, too...

A New Park In Indianapolis...?

Then, we have a Facebook group here, advocating for a *brand new* skatepark in Indianapolis (once again, copy and paste into your browser):!/group.php?gid=369131358951

Here's what they have to say:

"We are advocating the construction of a small skatepark in the King Park neighborhood located just north of the downtown area. Indy Skatepark Advocates are seeking funding via the Tony Hawk Foundation Grant in addition to other sources. We propose a family friendly skatepark that is roughly 5,000-10,000 square feet. We feel that access to safe activities for youth in the neighborhood are limited and could be improved with the construction of a skatepark. This advocacy group is composed of several local and experienced skateboarders,BMX bike riders and neighborhood stakeholders. Please help us in our effort to create awareness of the need for more skateparks in Indianapolis..."

They also have a petition, here (you know the drill):


Our beloved skatepark. Let's hope it lives to see another decade. Or two...

The Problems



I dug these photos out of the archives, and they point to two reasons why the city, or the college, might not be too stoked on keeping Major Taylor alive and kicking...

Let's face some hard facts, here, everyone. The skaters of Indianapolis aren't entirely "victims" here... and, my good conscience can't help but to point this out. In the upper photo, we have Problem Number One: Rampant and persistent graffiti everywhere, and regularly. In the bottom photo, we have photographic evidence of how we, as skaters, tend to treat our home park: Like garbage. Literally. Now, if we expect the city (or, anyone else) to build skateparks for us... let alone, letting us keep the skateparks that we already have... maybe we should also make a point of taking care of what we've got, while we've got it, hmmm...?

Likewise, I'd like to point out that I've often mentioned to the folks at the Major Taylor office that it might be a good idea to have 24/7 surveillance at the skatepark (like Anderson does, for example), to keep the vandals at bay. I've also advocated that Major Taylor should be well-lit, and open all night long (like Louisville is), so that skaters can use it any time they like. My hunch is that, most of the vandalism is done when skaters aren't there, as most skaters wouldn't condone having our beloved skatepark treated like this. If you let the skaters skate, they'll usually keep the vandals at arms' length, or off the property altogether.

In short: Everyone has a role to play here, and noone is blameless in this whole mess.

We'll stay on top of this story as it unfolds. Until then, the old mantra remains: Take care of your skatepark, and your skatepark will take care of you. Laters.


Crews: Old Indy Skaters (Indianapolis, IN)


Last fall, I began skating regularly with these guys that call themselves the Old Indy Skaters. It's a skateboard "club", not too unlike the old surf clubs (like Windansea, Palos Verdes, etc) that were popular back in the '50s and '60s (and many of which still endure, to this very day). The whole notion of the "skateboard club" isn't really so foreign, as we've had them in the skateboarding world, in one form or another, for decades. In the 1980's, we called them "teams"… as in, "Team Green", "Team Meanie Genie", and "Team Pierre". In the 1990's, and into the new millennium, they became "crews". So, this whole "social networking" thing has always been kicking around, but just under different names. The idea, though, is always the same: Getting together with the bros, skating hard, sharing a couple Cokes, maybe even having an impromptu bar-b-que, and just having a good time with all of it.

Here's last weeks' "group shot" out in Greencastle. Every week is different; next weeks' crew will probably be entirely different. Very few dudes make it every single week, just because of life constraints and stuff. But, there's always a good bunch of guys rerpresenting, no matter what.

The Ringleader

The Man With The Plan is a friendly chap named Bart. He's the guy that initially got in touch with me, and invited me into the group… the whole thing being a sort of invite-only, "secret society" of sorts. The OIS guys basically work on a "selective outreach" program, checking out old-school dudes as they run across them (usually, skating at the park), and giving them the lowdown sometime mid-session. How I got involved in this, is actually way beyond me. It never dawned on me to ask, actually. I was just plum happy that there were actually other old-school geezers [besides me] out there somewhere, that still skate.

The Ringleader, by the way, is a pretty motivated and energetic guy. It's not unusual at all to have to be up at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning… before the crack of dawn, even… to be on time for an 8-in-the-morning session. It's actually kinda grueling, especially after a hard week at work… but, it's also pretty damned motivating, and it makes a real man outta ya, really fast. Sure, everyone complains about the driving, and the waking up early. But, it's pretty rare for the guys to miss a session.

Here's the conscience of the group, Big Mike (and his son). Big Mike doesn't play around. His roots are deep, he's seen it all, and the dude can skate like a champ, too. That kid's got good genes, there.

The Traveling Man

Every week, the crew gets an e-mail, detailing where the next weeks' session is gonna be, what transpired at the previous weeks' session, and what "news" happened between the sessions. Many times, these sessions end up being pretty extensive road-tripping days out of town, where we'll end up many, many miles away from home virtually on a whim. This happened last fall to me: We were "supposed" to go skate Greencastle for the day (which is about 45 minutes from my house, anyway)… but, "somehow", we ended up all the way in Terre Haute, which is about an hour and a half from my house. It's very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and making Saturday afternoon "plans" is an exercise in utter futility, because no matter what you do, you're probably gonna miss them, anyway.

Which just might be the point…

Who needs a skateshop, when you have a club…?!

Because a couple of our crew have industry "connections", we also enjoy a good measure of industry "support". For example: Everyone in the club gets a pretty steep discount on anything made by American Nomad, because one of the guys knows Jay Kelly. I can just as easily (and, oftentimes do) get the same deal from JJ at Funhouse, as JJ and I go way back. There's actually a whole lotta stuff that we "could" get deals on, and we might just start working those at some point. The key thing being, the "club" is a great way to save a few bucks, and try out new stuff that you might have never heard about… or, experienced… if it weren't for the crew always keeping you abreast of the latest and greatest. Indeed, I barely go to my local skate shop anymore. Why bother?! The Club is all that I'll ever need. And, it's also hella convenient, as I'm gonna see those dudes every week at the session, anyway. Might as well order up a deck (or, two) while I'm at it, right…?

Pride, man...

The Boss-As-Hell Club Tees

Being in a club has its perks. The club tees are probably my personal favorite. Very black, very "skull", and very, very badass. I ordered two, because one just wasn't gonna cut it. The tees help to support other "perks" like, the club hotline (317-Sk8-Spot, if you can believe that…!), the club website and forums (, and the never ending supply of cold Cokes that Bart always has on his person, which basically makes him my favorite person ever.

Everybody's Welcome here...

All ages, all abilities, all genders, all backgrounds... there is no "in" crowd here, just as there is no "out" crowd, either. Generally speaking, you're more likely to be approached by Bart if you're:

- Old, or
- Rocking some sort of old-school getup (regardless of your personal age), or
- Doing some sort of old-school trickery, or
- You're just a mellow, friendly, cool cat.

Sometimes, we'll spot dudes at the skatepark, and we'll nudge Bart into making an introduction on behalf of us all. "Hey, there's another prospect for ya!" Bart usually follows through, and the club just keeps growing by leaps and bounds. Every session that I go to, there's always another new dude or two that wasn't at the last session. Which makes keeping tabs on everyone kinda difficult. But, it also makes each session that much more interesting, because you're never quite 100% sure who's gonna show up...

Tim's new flavor-of-the-week, a twenty-five-year-old relic in pristine condition. Only the Lord knows how he manages to track this stuff down, so consistently...

History Lives Here

It's not uncommon for one or two of the dudes to show up with some neat, "new" old skateboard. Don't even ask me how, or why, these guys manage to bloodhound down all of this cool new shit on such a regular basis, but they do it, and they're damned good at it, too. Just this week, Tim shows up with this pristine Dogtown Scott Oster right outta nowhere, and once again, I'm left scratching my head while Bart tells me how he nearly [but, not quite] swindled Tim out of it.

The Future

Oh, nobody probably knows much beyond the next session (Carmel, Saturday, April 3rd, 8:00 am... as usual...!). Everyone will probably keep on keepin' on. As for Bart, he's had requests from guys far and away, wondering how they can start their own clubs, too. Bart knows guys in Louisville, Cincinnati, California... the world's the limit, maybe. Whatever "the future" holds, it'll definitely revolve around skating, and it'll definitely be fun. See all y'all next week!


Interview: Bart Kelley of Old Indy Skaters



Here he is: The early riser, the motivator, the cleaning crew, and the man with the plan. I asked him for a "Bart Pose", and this is what I got.

So Bart, how did you get the whole idea for this "Old Indy Skaters" deal…?

Well, I started by skating with my daughter, who's 14 years old now. I started going to skateparks, but I really didn't like the scene… so, I started going skating early in the mornings… but then, I realized that I was just all by myself. And, I didn't really wanna skate all by myself. So, I got the old crew that I used to skate with in the '80s together, and we started skating together. Then, I decided that I wanted to make it a little bit bigger, to have more people to skate with. And, it kind of took off from there.

And, it's also really well organized, too, with our club t-shirts and hats and everything. Like, what inspired you to do all that stuff…?

(Bart laughs…) Ahhh… well, just probably how I am, and what I do. I'm a graphic designer-slash-marketing-guy… and so, I figured that if we're gonna do it, we might as well do it right. And, umm… it's as easy as that. I mean, image is everything… that's what I try to tell my customers in the business world, that image is everything. So, we just figured that if we're gonna be a crew, we might as well do it right.

Even in the '80s, we had our own t-shirts…

Oh, really…?!

Yeah, our crew was called "Them Guys". So that way, when you'd see us, you'd go, "Hey, there's Them Guys…"!


So, when you said that you didn't like "The Scene"… y'know, we live in Indianapolis, so…


… what exactly didn't you like about "the scene", though…?

It was just, y'know… growing up in the '80s as a skater, you would see a person that was freakin' three blocks away that had a skateboard in his hand… he was like, an instant friend. And I clearly saw that, that was no longer there. It was just… everybody had their own cliques, and you would have people at the skatepark that were just all by themselves that didn't even care about anybody else, or didn't even want to skate with anybody else other than with themselves. And y'know, the black skinny jeans and the gangster skaters and stuff… I just couldn't really understand that concept. So, I really didn't like that scene…

That's another thing about the whole Old Indy Skaters thing, is that we're trying to re-create how it was back in the '80s. Like if you see someone with a skateboard, it's like that instant-friendship all over again, y'know?

So, it's kind of like an anti-social-sort-of-high-school scene that skateboarding has turned into these days…?

Ah, yeah… (laughter)

For lack of a better word for that shit… (laughter)

Yeah… you've got the… I wouldn't say "jocks" or "preps"… I would say you have the, uhh, "skinny jeans" and the "gangsters", and the uhh…y'know, whatever… I don't even know what they are anymore. (hysterical laughing) I can't even label 'em…

"Fags"! (laughter)

Something… nothing against homosexuals, of course…

No, no, no, of course not. Now: I've noticed that we have a penchant for being at these parks like, super-early in the morning. This was all your idea, right…?


As a matter of fact, you kind of, y'know, create our whole schedule, and do the e-mail list and everything, don't ya…?


So, that kind of makes you like, "The Boss", and we're kind of "The Bitches"…

Nah man, it's not about "The Boss" or "The Bitches"… (laughing…)


Once again, the reason why we come so early is to try to avoid the crowd, and try to avoid the people… and, y'know, the majority of us are grown men that have grown lives, and if we're out from 8 in the morning to noon, we're not really affecting our own personal lives. So if I have two kids and a wife, and if I come home to the house at noon, or one… or, sometimes seven… (laughing)… it's still not really affecting my weekend that much. So, it's a lot easier to get people to come out early in the morning.

Plus, you avoid the crowd of, y'know…

The Razor Scooters…

The Razor Scooters, the kids that just come to the skatepark that don't even skate, but for some reason it's a cool place to go to pretend like they're in the "skate scene", but they're not…


Yeah, that's wha… (laughing)… that's what we called 'em, back in the day… (more laughing)…

Is it OK if I'm blunt, by the way…?!

No! No no no! It's not even "posers", because they don't even have skateboards! Like they just… they just show up… I don't know… it's like, they're wannabe posers…

"Wannabe Posers"?! (dying laughing...)

Yeah! They're not even like poser skaters, they're like… posers at life, so… (laughing)… so, it's sad, but…

Yes, the backyard scene is alive and well in Indianapolis. In fact, Bart has several indoor and outdoor "secret spots" at his disposal... including a wooden indoor bowl, two garage mini-ramps, a backyard concrete oasis, as well as this backyard summer project, right here. Knowing Bart helps a lot. Knowing that Bart is universally well-respected, and can keep a secret, helps even more...

Now, the last thing that I wanted to ask ya… and I'm not sure that you can even talk about this… but, we get some kind of support from The Industry doing all of this, don't we…?

(Bart looks at me funny…)

Kind of…?


"American Nomad"…

Well, no, not really…

"No, not really"?!


Are we not allowed to talk about that now…?!

Oh, we can! I mean, American Nomad is a very big supporter of us. But to me… y'know, I also do the American Nomad website, and I helped to re-create it, and re-design it… update it, keep it up-to-date, and everything like that…

So, that's how we got that deal! You're connected…!

Yeah. So with that, comes a few little perks. Y'know, Jay Kelly is an awesome guy, Bill Danforth is a wonderful man… so with that, once again, being the graphic designer/marketing guy, I return and turn that around, and bring it to the Old Indy Skaters. So, yeah, when we want help? We get help from 'em. So, yeah. It's as easy as that.

And we're all riding American Nomad right now. I think everyone has got at least like, a couple Nomads banging around…

I think so. I think everybody in the crew probably has one, yeah. So… (laughing)

But, y'know… I don't wanna put it too publically… but, Jay and American Nomad has come together with a special deal for the Old Indy Skaters. If you're in the crew, and if you're on the e-mail list, and you get the e-mails…you get the special pricing and everything like that… so, y'know… yeah, we get help that way.

But you have to be in the crew, though. You can't just be some burger-headed kid in the middle of nowhere…

Gotta be In The Crew.

Gotta be In The Crew

Gotta be in the crew, and let me know what you need…

Y'gotta know Bart. Because if you don't know Bart, you ain't shit! I think that'll do it, Bart. Thanks, bro!

Thanks, Bud.

Spot Check: The Banks of Plainfield, IN


Indianapolis, Indiana is quickly becoming a world leader in warehousing, distribution, and logistics. Mostly because our airport is a major FedEx hub that just had a multi-zillion-dollar renovation... we are truly "The Crossroads Of America", with I-70, I-74, I-69, and I-65 all converging on our little city... and, our centralized locale is within an easy, one-day drive of 70% of America's population centers. My last four jobs have all been in warehousing and logistics, because that's probably the only "growth" market that Indianapolis has right now.

This "growth" market has made a few other perks available too, far above and beyond steady employment and regular paychecks...


On the other side of the airport from Indianapolis, is the small, indistinct town of Plainfield. Completely bland and unremarkable in almost every other aspect, it's location right at the front doorstep of Indianapolis International makes this a bustling boom-town of big-box storage facilities. For whatever reason, every warehouse out there conforms to a single building paradigm: Lots of truck loading docks, with a few drive-in ramps... and, with those drive-in ramps, we have tons and tons of gently angled, sloping loading-dock banks. Literally, hundreds of them. In every shape, angle, and size. From Wallos-steep wall jams to mellow, gently tapering, and perfectly smooth waves of concrete. All in all, it's something halfway between a precious man-made resource, and an old-schoolers' ultimate skateboarding dreamscape.


Every warehouse out there has at least eight or so of these banks; four on each side of the building. And, there are dozens of warehouses in this modern-day wholesale district, with more and more of 'em being built every year. It could take you a week of all-night sessions to fully milk them all for what they're worth, although some nights are definitely better than others for staying low-key, stealth, unseen, and unheard. Which is key to "protecting" this awesome resource that we've been blessed with.


As for "security", it's pretty much nonexistent. This single sign was the only warning that I spotted in an entire nights' worth of skating and documenting. A sign only goes so far as a deterrent (which isn't very far at all), and without some fatassed security "guard" to back that shit up, a measly sign really becomes something of a joke. But: The smart skater doesn't push his luck with these things. Notice how even after years and years of skating at these spots, there's not one lick of graffiti, trash, dirt, or any other form of "vandalism" anywhere in sight? That's right, kids: Take good care of your spots, and your spots will take good care of you.


Spot Check: Danville, Indiana's "Closed" Park








Here's Danville skatepark, as it sat on my 2008 Tour. It was a nice facility. Mostly prefabricated concrete obstacles, well-laid-out, on a wide-open, smooth concrete surface. Pretty clean, pretty tidy, and with some fun, mellow banks at the gate entrance. Well, that was then. And, this is now:



Saturday, March 27th, 2010, 6:30 am. The skatepark is still there, and entirely intact [contrary to popular opinion/the rumor mill]. However: The front gate is chained and padlocked shut, and there are fancy, routered "closed" signs at the entrance. The rationale? Apparently, the Danville Police were getting way, waaayyy too many calls to the skatepark to break up "violence" [teenage drama bullshit, probably].

This is what happens when:

1. There's no coherent and/or organized skate scene in town,
2. Kids are too stupid to appreciate what they've got, and too lazy to take care of it accordingly,
3. Kids take the "let somebody else manage this shit" attitude, and fail to manage [police] their own damn selves, and
4.The powers-that-be are too overzealous in "taking away" a great investment that's already been put there, and at great taxpayer expense. Apparently, the cops don't realize that this isn't gonna "solve" the problem at all. It's just gonna "move" the problem somewhere else, whilst leaving a town-full of skaters with nowhere to go, and nothing to do. And, we all know what idle hands do, people...

Note that I used "taking away" in quotes up there. For my part, I'm sort of amazed and perplexed that some genius kids in Danville haven't invested in a pair of bolt-cutters or tin snips, and "rectified" this chain-link fence/chain-and-padlock-gated "situation" yet. Once again, we have kids being too dumb and/or lazy, to take fate/destiny/initiative/whatever into their own hands. Whaddya expect, everyone to hand you everything on a silver platter or for the rest of your fucking lives?! C'mon, man. Get real, guys, and get on that shit.


The Journal: Photos From The Road


Downtown Danville, Indiana. Saturday, March 27th, 2010, 6:45 am. This is the Mayberry Cafe, right on the town square. The police car is the cafe's "mascot", and old Ford Fairlane police cruiser. It's obviously a throwback to the old Andy Griffith shows, as is most of Danville, itself.


Groveland, Indiana. 7:35 am. I liked the juxtaposition between the huge, smiley face in the foreground, and the dilapidated and abandoned Texaco station in the background. I think it says a lot about the midwest, our history, our values, and our way of life.


Get Well Soon, Cody!


Yesterday, as the rest of the Old Indy Skaters crew was finishing up an early-morning session at Greencastle's skatepark, Cody and I were goofing off with a quick photography sesh of our own. I had my sweetie's Canon Elph, and I was figuring out the pre-focusing feature (that cuts down on shutter lag tremendously). On this backside air on the gnarliest part of Greencastle's "street" course (big pic at left), Cody took a wilson, and ended up straight on his noggin (small pic on right).


Bart cleaning up Cody's dome-ding, with the help of some bottled water. That's what friends are for.



Before the slam. What you can't hear in the top photo, is the screaming of 58mm Spitfire F1's being pushed on rough, vertical concrete. Cody's the shit, man. No joke. As for the bottom photo, I think that one pretty much speaks for itself.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Blogs Vs. The Magazines




Why I Can't Stand Zumiez


They sell clown clothes for wannabes fashion victims, not skate clothes for skaters.

They're in malls, and only trendy geeks like malls.

Their employees are girly-girls and girly-boys that don't know jack shit about skateboards, Let alone, skateboarding.

They're a huge-ass corporation owned by greedy fat-cat shareholders. Not, skateboarders.

They only sell big, corporate skate and clothing brands. There's not a small, skater-owned brand represented anywhere in the place.

They don't invest jack shit into skateboarding, and they invest even less into local skateboard scenes.

Their customer service sucks ass. Seriously...

They leech off of the local economy, directing [already scarce and precious] resources right into non-skaters' pockets.

Please, everybody:

Support small, locally-owned businesses.

Support skateboarders.

Support skater-owned shops and skate companies (unless they ban you from the premises... in that case, screw them, too).


Because We Can...!!!


The Solitary Life Presents: New Stuff That Works!


This was "supposed" to be a super, long-ass article on every "new technology" in the skateboard marketplace today, the merits and demerits of each of them... what works, what doesn't, and why. But, truth be told, I'm just a little bit bored of all that stuff. And besides, there's so much marketing bullshit and foggy "engineering" going on, that I just didn't even wanna discuss it all. Let alone, lend any of it any sort of "legitimacy" by actually being featured in the solitary life. So, let's just keep it really raw, real, and straightforward, and focus on the shit that actually works, okay...?

Truthfully, there's only three "deck technologies" that mean anything at all out there. And, everything else is pretty much garbage. Let's get that laid down, right off the bat. The three "technologies" that work are generally:

- Hollow cores (because of their light weight),
- Surface strengtheners (for long-lasting durability), and
- Tip reinforcements (for added pop, and even more durability).

Let's start with hollow cores. Like, the Element Helium construction, for example. Or, Lib Technologies' new Glory Hole construction. Hollow cores obviously remove materials from the board. Which also, removes mass. Which saves weight. And, as far as street decks go, lighter is [usually] better.

Here's a cross-sectional view of the Element Helium construction. Note that the "air chambers" are in the dead-center of the board, where they won't compromise the overall strength of the deck. The basic idea is a lot like corrugated cardboard; with the corrugated center, corrugated cardboard is a lot stiffer than regular 'ol card stock. This is the same idea, but just a different application.

Any time that we're "removing stuff" from a deck, we want to remove it from the center of the board, if and when it's possible to do so. Why? Because, the center of the deck is the lowest-stress area of the deck. Obviously, the center of the deck is also the lowest-abuse area of the deck, too. So, removing materials from the middle of the deck, is smart engineering. So: Good job, Element Helium.

Now, let's move on to surface strengtheners. Foundation's Fiberlam/Fiberprime, Toy Machine's Fiberlam/Fiberprime, SMA's Blackbird, and Santa Cruz's PowerLyte constructions are perfect examples. Any time that you use any sort of "composite" material (like, carbon fiber), you want that material to be on the outside of whatever it is that you're making. That's why most things that use carbon fiber... like race car bodies, jet airplane components, the hood of your tricked-out Honda Civic, or your dad's bicycle frame and forks... have the carbon fiber visible, on the outside. Only a total jackass would put carbon fiber in the middle of something... but, jackass skateboard companies do this all the time. Why? I don't know, man. You'll have to ask them...


Here, we have several views of a Foundation Fiberlam deck. Note how the Fiberlam material is on the top and the bottom of the deck. Any time you're using advanced composite materials, you want those materials to be as far from the center of the board as possible. This is just basic engineering 101; any composite-use handbook is gonna tell you that! Obviously, putting them on the very top and bottom of the deck is as far away from "center" as you can possibly get. So Foundation gets it right, where many others get it so, so wrong...

Lastly, we have tip reinforcements. Never Summer is doing this, on their longboards. Lib Technologies has also been doing this for quite a while on their skateboard decks. And, there's a group of companies that use something called the Performance Tip System ("P-Tip", for short), where the tip is removeable/replaceable (unlike the Libs and Never Summers, where it's laminated right into the board, and thus, not replaceable). These "tips" all do the same thing: They increase pop, while eliminating chipping.

Here's a typical "Performance Tip" deck. This time it's by One Skateboards, a small company out of Philly run by the ever-illustrious AJ Kohn. Whatever brand you choose (and, there are definitely quite a few to choose from, at this point), the basic principle always remains the same: A harder, tougher tip creates more pop, and less chipping. Pretty bonus, considering that "more pop" and "less chipping" is on almost every skateboarders' wish-list.

Like a Fiberlam, these tips are usually made out of some sort of composite material that's a lot harder, and far more durable, than wood. Think of it as a bumper for your deck. Or: Think of snowboards, where plastic sidewalls and composite tips have been used to increase pop and durability since the 1980's, and have currently found their "ultimate" form in boards like Burton's Vapor, a smoke-weight, bulletproof, and uber-responsive deck that's almost entirely made out of lightweight cores and surface composites.


The really interesting thing about these "new technologies" is that, all of them have been with us for decades in one form or another. I've heard that Bennett had a flyweight deck all the way back in the 1970's that had a drilled-out, foam-filled core. Santa Cruz also offered Foam Core decks in the mid-'80s.

The Fiberlam is obviously descended from the old G&S Fibreflex decks that were common... maybe even, "pretty popular"... back in the early '70s, and continue to be to this very day. The only real "difference" between a Fibreflex and a Fiberlam being, of course, the exact weaves and epoxies that are being used. But still, the premise remains the same: Using a composite on the top and bottom of a deck, makes that deck stronger.

As for hard-composite "tips", these are clearly descended from the add-on, plastic "tail bones" that many [beginner] skaters added to their decks in the '80s. Like rails and noseguards, the idea was to protect the board from tail-dragging the board to death. The only real "advance" here is again, the materials being used, and the fact that it's neatly flush-fit onto a specially-routered deck.

The Future:

So: What Is The Future Of These "New" Technologies...? The funny thing is, if you took an Element Helium core, added a Performance Tip, and laid it up with Fiberlam on the top and bottom... you'd pretty much have the ultimate street deck. As it would be the very best in light weight, high strength, chip-proofing, and awesome "pop".

So, you tell me: Who's gonna figure it out first, and get this thing to market before the next chump does...? Let's get this thing done already! The market awaits, guys...