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.




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