Saturday, September 11, 2010

Park Profiles: Burlington MA (with Skatepark Tours video)

I don’t get to skate outside of Essex County, so when I had to pick up my wonderful wife at work in Haverhill I decided to take this opportunity to go back to the Burlington mini-ramp. I had only been here twice before, but the ramp under the trees at Simonds park was one of a kind in this area, and worth the drive. If you noticed, I said was.
When Steph and I got to the park in Burlington I was quite disappointed to see that the mini-ramp was gone. Upon further inspection of the area we noticed that a whole skate park had been built in the back right corner of Simonds park (between the hockey court and tennis courts, behind the playground and bathrooms).

The park, which contains Woodward ramps made from some type of Skatelite material, is small but has great flow. All the elements in the park are linked extremely well and are in good condition.

To the right of the entrance is a 5-5 ½’ roll-in which leads onto the small two-tier box. The box has a metal edge on the high tier to grind and a low flat rail along the middle of the low tier.

To the left of the box is a two section banked quarter pipe that is about 3’ high with round metal coping. On the right side of this pipe is a one section banked quarter pipe that leads to another two sided quarter pipe in the far left corner of the park. The side of this ramp has a similar banked ramp, while the front side is a flat roll-in. This roll-in makes up the left side of a spine run. 

The spine is small, maybe 2- 2 ½’ high. On the right side of the spine-hip is a larger flat roll-in.

In the middle of the park is a metal picnic table, that is grindable, and two rails; one rail is a low-short flat one while the other is round with a small kink from about 1’ high down to about 3” off the ground.

On the far right side of the park is a new 6-6 ½’ concrete mini-ramp with round coping. This is a much better ramp than the decrepit one that I planned on riding.

Overall this is a good park with lots of options for skaters. It is one I recommend you check out.

Taking Videos of Myself

Like I had mentioned in the Taking Pictures of Myself post, I usually skate alone. But using my camera’s timer I have learned to get photos of myself skating. I also recently had another epiphany, my camera takes videos as well.

Using this option I have begun filming short clips of my sessions, mostly at the Gloucester MA park during my daily lunch sessions. The major downfall to this practice is the extra time that is on the clips. Since I have to start and stop the recording process myself there is always 5-6 seconds of empty video at the beginning and end of each of my shots.

At my recent session at the Burlington park, though, I was lucky enough to have my wonderful wife Stephanie shooting for me, so there is no extra time on these clips. Follow this link to see all of my videos at

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Recon Missions: Marblehead

When I was married last year, my wonderful wife and I moved from our hometown of Salem to nearby Marblehead. Since Marblehead eliminated it’s skate park a couple years ago, I have been trying to find some street spots to session when I don’t have the time, or motivation, to drive to a park.

The first spot that I noticed was the ‘Snake Rail’ at the Abbott Public Library (235 Pleasant Street). This long black curved rail is the perfect height for grinds; and it’s odd shape makes it a great rail for video shoots. There is also a small rail and stair set on the side of the building. The only downfall here is that this spot can only be skated when the library is closed.

The next spot that I found is at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church (67 Cornell Road) across from the Marblehead High School. On either side of the church there is a steep-red handrail down a 9-set of stairs. These aren’t for beginners, but can be fun for the more experienced booters. At this spot there are also small red-handrails and a handicap ramp with rails at the front entrance.

Another cool spot to roll in Marblehead is behind the Veterans Middle School (217 Pleasant St.). In it’s small courtyard there are two dual handrails, down 6-sets, that are small and smooth. There is also a low-waxed stone ledge, that is the bottom of the courtyard seating, that you can grind on. It is clearly marked that skating is prohibited here, though, so be prepared to get thrown out pretty quickly. On the other side of the school, there is also a tight 10-set stair gap that is not for amateurs, but is another great video spot.

By far the best spot in town, though, is the rail at the Old YMCA building on Pleasant St. This rail is the perfect height and I recently put a fresh coat of wax on it, so it rides like a dream. The best part is that this is a low-foot-traffic area, so there are almost never any interruptions. This has quickly become my favorite street spot on the North Shore.

So if you ever find yourself skating around Marblehead, be sure to check out these spots. You just might find me during a session over at the Old YMCA.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Park Profiles: Gloucester MA (with Skatepark Tours video)

In Park Profiles: Salem MA, I told you all that even though Salem is my home it wasn’t the first park I skated. Well, this one was.

The Gloucester skate park at O’Maley Middle School was one of the first concrete parks to be built on the North Shore, possibly one of the first parks in general. I credit it with motivating cities like Salem, Beverly, Manchester and Peabody to build parks of their own.

I remember how my brother and I used to beg our mother to drive us up 128 because we were too young to drive ourselves. Now that I work in Gloucester, and can obviously drive myself, I take my lunch breaks here, getting in quick sessions whenever I can.

The park is large. I think it is too large for what it contains. On the right, there is a long round rail with a slight kink at the end. There is a flat kicker that launches into the right corner of the park.

The park’s fun box, one with a flat front and banked sides, has a nice round coping but lacks any real roll-in as an approach. In the back right there is a double-bench that has been fitted with a metal-plated edge.

In the back center, there is a 4’ quarter-pipe, that is 3 blocks wide, which rolls towards a large flat pyramid in the middle of the lot. The pipe is too far from the pyramid to keep any speed though, so gaps are not easy to accomplish.

The pyramid is the park’s best feature. It’s two long sides are banked, while the two short are steep-flat roll-ins. It has two round rails from it; one runs off the corner near the fun box and another down the middle of the opposite side’s flat roll-in.

Between the entrance and the pyramid are two flat-top spines that are about 1 ½’ high. One has been fitted with a stone slab, that used to be for grinding, that makes it higher for gaps and stalls.

In the far left corner, a 3-block wide 4’ mini-ramp is the newest addition to the park. It has a flat roll-in on the park side, but this doesn’t lead into any object, so it seems like a waste.

The park also has a flat manual box, that has square metal copings along the long sides. It is placed between the mini-ramp and the pyramid.

This is a decent park, but not as great as I once thought it was. I could have been so much better if it was built in a smaller space with better flow. If you come here around noon on a weekday, you can find me during one of my lunch session; grinding around the park and taking pictures of myself.

Skatepark FAQ’s: Vol. 1

When you spend as much time at skate parks as I have especially ones filled with more little kids than skilled skaters, you get used to answering the same questions over and over again.

The first of these Frequently Asked Questions that I want to address is ‘Can you do this trick?’. When skating was at its hottest, this was the most asked question by far; since all the little grommets knew what the tricks were called but couldn’t do them themselves.

My response to this question used to be either, “I’m not here for your entertainment” or “I’ll do it for a dollar,” depending on how I felt that day.

During one of my recent sessions at the Salem park, I was posed this question again. “Can you do a porn star to Royal grind?” asked a young-ghetto Asian kid just sitting on the quarter pipe. I told him I could, and that it’s called a Royale, so obviously he wanted to see it. I asked him “What will you give me?” His response made me laugh. “Respect” he said matter of factly.

Since the combo is on I can do, I told him that Respect was enough for me and I threw the tricks with some ease. He didn’t respond at first, then he said “Can you 180 the spine?” I could see that he wasn’t easily impressed so I decided to one up him.

I went to the spine and tossed a quick 180-Mute over it. “Nice, nice,” he said, but I told him that I wasn’t done yet. I dropped back in and hucked a 360-Lui Kang over it this time, stalled on the quarter-pipe and then finished with a 540 back to the other side.

The kid was pretty stunned. “Respect,” he said, “much respect, that was sick.” I thanked him and went back to my session. It was one of those moments that remind me why I love skating, and one that I had almost forgotten was possible.

I hope you get to have experiences like this when you’re out rolling and progressing the art. If you have, please share them with me here. I would like to tell your stories on Skate Sessions, showing the world what our life is all about.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Park Profiles: Salem MA (with Skatepark Tours video)

The Ryan Brennan Memorial Skatepark in Salem, dedicated to my cousin who passed away after a rollerblading accident, is my home park. This wasn’t the first skate park I rolled, but is definitely the one that I roll most often.

During my teens, and into my early twenties, I would spend up to eight hours a day here; this is where all the local booters session. It was great to know that if I went to Salem there would always be someone skating there. This park became the starting point for all of our sessions, no matter where we were going to skate that day.

The park, which is concrete with round copings, isn’t as large as most of the other concrete parks in the area, like Gloucester or Manchester, but it has possibly the best flow.

At the far right of the park there are two concrete benches, that you always see at parks, which have been generously waxed for grinding. Moving to the left, there is a banked-kicker followed by two mini-bumps.

Next to these things is a flat-kicker that rolls right into the low-round rail. In the far right corner of the park is a mini-mini-ramp, which is about 1 ½’- 2’ high with a flat roll-in on the park side.

Down the middle of the park is a 4’ spine with 4’ bookend-quarter-pipes. These are perfectly spaced, allowing you to keep your speed and put together nice long runs.

On the far left of the park, from the back corner, there is a 4’ mini-ramp that has a flat-roll-in on the park side. This roll-in leads right into the fun box, which has three flat sides, one of which rolls right into the 7’ quarter-pipe in the front left corner of the park. This is the perfect line for grinds and airs, and since the park in small you can easily keep speed between tricks.

I’d recommend this park to any skaters out there who can get to the North Shore. It has a lot to choose from, and the round copings make it very booter friendly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recon Missions: Rockport

One fine Saturday, while I was working at the Gloucester Market Basket, I decided that it was time for another Recon Mission. On my lunch break, which has recently been designated ‘skate time,’ I took a drive into neighboring Rockport in search of some new spots. Since I don’t actually know my way around Rockport, or Gloucester for that matter, I just kept on driving until I came to the ocean.

The pier I had found happened to have a brick building (the one straight ahead on the GoogleMap) that serves as the Harbormasters office and the public restrooms. The handicap ramp to this building has the prefect two-tier green rail that is a great session spot.

The lower portion of the rail juts out just enough to do frame and soul grind variations. The high tier, which is slightly higher than the average handicap rail, isn’t for beginners but is perfect for any confident booter with a solid vertical leap.

The only downfalls to this great spot are that it can only be skated when the harbormaster isn’t around (I usually go on Saturdays), and there are always lots of people getting in the way (since it is the public restrooms of a tourist town).

If you are patient, though, and you have the right ability, this spot is a great one on the North Shore. The view and breeze of the ocean create a perfect atmosphere; and skating for the crowds can be fun too.

I hope you get a chance to check this one out and be sure to come back soon for more of my Recon Missions here at Skate Sessions.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Taking Pictures Of Myself…

As I mentioned in my first post here at Skate Sessions, I usually have to skate alone due to the lack of booters left around here.

This had made it extremely difficult for me to document my sessions with photographs. That was until I had an epiphany; I could use my camera’s self-timer to take photos of myself!

Now I have to admit that this isn’t the easiest task, since the only viable timer is a 10-second delay. So, to achieve a successful photo I have to first find a place where I can stand the camera and have the rail/gap in the frame. Once I set and activate the 10-sec countdown, I have to skate into position and throw my trick hoping that 1) I land the trick and 2) I end up in frame when the camera takes the shot.

The first session I tried this at was in Gloucester on one of my lunch sessions. Most of my attempts were unsuccessful because I was new to this task and felt very rushed. I had a hard time even sticking a simple pornstar or soul grind. I did end up getting a couple good shots though, on both the low rail and the pyramid rail.

The next time I decided to try this was much more successful. During my session at the Old YMCA rails in Marblehead I was able to land a variety of tricks, on my first try, and have the pictures come out great. My only serious miss was a session ending shinner-soul that still turned out to be a good photo.

I’d recommend that any of you out there that find yourself skating by yourself, with a camera that has a timer, try this out. It is a great way to get some pics of you rolling and sometimes it’s the only way.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Recon Missions: Boston

Since I started skating again I have been searching for new and exciting spots to skate, which I will feature in up-coming ‘Recon Missions’ posts. I have also been returning to spots that I skated back in the day to get reacquainted with them. This is one of those stories.
About a month ago, while I was in Boston, I decided to session at ‘The Heavens’, a raised courtyard somewhere downtown with loads of pristine marble ledges and banks. I skated here once, years ago, and I figured I could find my way back.

After driving around the Public Gardens twice, then through the West End and all finally all the way down Comm. Ave. I was about to give up. But on my way back to the North End, where I work at a hockey rink for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, I spotted a group of skateboarders in a courtyard at Copley Square on Boylston St.

The courtyard, as it turns out, is actually an empty fountain with one long-waxed stone ledge that skateboarders session during the colder months (the fountain is active during warmer temps.). I was stoked to find this new spot, even though one of the local boarders informed me that ‘The Heavens’ had been torn down not too long ago.

I may have failed in my original Mission, since it was destined to fail from the start, but I was lucky enough to find a new spot and have had some sweet sessions there with some friendly boarders. Not surprisingly I am always the only booter at any of these sessions. I have been well accepted though, and a couple of these boarders even brought me to another spot close by. This spot is outside the Back Bay T Station; where there is a long-smooth marble bench to grind and a small 3-set to launch off of. This is more of a board friendly spot, but it is still fun to mess around on.

I hope you enjoy these spots as much as I do, and word to the wise, if you drive and park on Boylston be sure to mind the time on your parking meter! The meter maids in downtown are vultures and will ticket you the second your time expires. I have the $25 ticket to prove it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Welcome to 'Skate Sessions'

It just hit me one day, that urge somewhere deep in my brain that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I really wanted, no I needed, to skate.

There was a time, in my teens, when I spent whole days out ‘rolling’ with my friends. We were a solid crew of 6-8 kids, most of them younger and a couple of them older than me; we met at the park almost everyday.

We pushed each other to be better skaters. Seeing one of the guys land a new trick made me want to try it too. We brought each other progression, we brought each other support. We would all even pile into each others cars to make trips to other parks, or into Boston for some nighttime street skating.

But that was then and this is now.

Now, I find myself skating alone, or worse surrounded by bikes, boards and an unfathomable swarm of scooters. Aggressive skating was taken out of the X-Games back in 2005 and skating mags like Daily Bread and Box are gone and nearly forgotten. But that old urge stays with me, and it’s an itch that must be scratched.

So join me at Skate Sessions, and help me revive this dying art with Park Profiles, Recon Mission‘s to underground street spots, and general insight into the skating world; or just watch me ride out aggressive skating’s final days.




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