Last month was House Party week in Ann Arbor. I made it to two of the events and thought I’d blog briefly about them. This post is about Park(ing) Day, a national day in which public parking spaces are taken over and re-imagined as something other than car storage.
I’d briefly engaged with past Park(ing) Days in Ann Arbor. This one hooked me with a serious repurposing of parking: a mini skatepark in the street! The sk8r dad crew (me and Dave-O) skated over from Workantile to check it out.
Dadness already had been stoked to a near-inferno by the widespread re-adoption of loose-fit, faded denim jeans, sometimes with a sensible cuff-roll well suited to low-impact cycling or safely depressing the pedals of a used minivan.
Ouch! I certainly wear loose-fit faded jeans to cycle and drive a minivan. One quibble: I’d argue that rolling up your pant cuffs is trying too hard. It’s more dad style to have a chain guard and/or just get grease on your pants. But yeah, this has my number.
Well, if “dad tricks” is a style, I am its paragon. I appreciate the effort by these skaters to do dad tricks, but they’re too young, too talented, too far removed to know real dad skating. Here’s my insider take on being a sk8r dad.
I’ve been doing a lot of “mental blogging”, no actual blogging, so here’s an attempt to break that and get something written.
Skateboarding is suddenly popular around here. As a family, we watched the 2021 Olympics skateboarding: all of the women’s final and the condensed version of the men’s final. My kids were surprisingly into it. It probably helped that the women’s winners were so young – the gold medalist was just 13 years old.
That got them interested in skating themselves. We purchased a kid’s board last year, during the height of COVID, but it soon got shelved. It was a nice board, too. The one I’d learned on as a teen had low-quality bearings and I could hardly coast on it, which made it a lot less fun. I compensated for that experience by buying my kids a good starter board. It’s out of the garage and rolling again.
Speaking of my experience, I’m interested in skating again, for the first time in twenty years. I dabbled during my teens, logging maybe a couple of dozen hours on skateboard and longboard before giving up. I remember walking to the park in the summer and practicing my ollie by myself. And just not getting it. Between a lack of progress and having no friends who skated, I soon called it quits.
I continued to enjoy the aesthetics of street skating, though. I got most of the way to completing every achievement in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 – “considered one of the greatest video games of all time, as well as the highest-rated sports video game” – searing the soundtrack into my brain (“lights out, guerilla radio!”). And I watched skating videos, rarer in the pre-YouTube days. Rodney Mullen was my favorite.
Fast forward two decades and it’s easy to rediscover his highlights. Here’s a nice reel; I’m starting it at my favorite kind of trick, with elegant manuals and grinds on street objects:
All of this has been enough to get me back on a board. I bought one off Craigslist this week along with some safety pads. I’m hopeful that I’ll learn more quickly this time around. I had terrible balance as a kid, but since then I’ve done a ton of cycling and fair amount of snowboarding and skiing, so I think I’ll be better. Plus many years of learning new things has made me wiser and more patient. I’d love to be able to ride well, manual, and (stretch goal) ollie over something small.
We’ll see how it goes. If nothing else I’ll have some fun outdoors with my kids.