i actually got a few days off (thanks to Sarah) to catch my breath and i finally made it down to Portland's DIY park to see the destruction. So sad seeing it with the obstacles crushed and left as rubble. But quickly my thoughts turned to all the amazing DIY spots i've enjoyed and how this is just a part of the cycle. One could easily argue that the "Do It Yourself (DIY)" attitude is one of the major pylons of skateboarding's ethos. In temperament the very act of skateboarding says that i don't need a team, i don't need a league, i don't need waves or snow. All i need is ME and this useless wooden toy. If society fell tomorrow it would have no effect on the day's skate session.
But far more than that, the current destruction of the Portland Maine DIY spot got me thinking of the now - epic in my memory - DIY spots that have become almost folklore the way me and other may talk about them. Finding them, skating them, and contributing to them has become the duty of all of those who have joined the worldwide tribe of skateboarders. Now here's where i show just how old i am.
Now i know too many times everyone has had to listen to me reference how when i started skating there where no skate shoes, skate clothes, etc. Roll your eyes, go ahead but you know... there where also no public skateparks around the Northeast (at least anywhere near resembling what they are today). Any spare building supplies (and sometimes not-so-spare ones too) became the tools of creativity. Launch ramps popped up everywhere as fathers throughout New England could be heard wondering "where did all my screws go?" A little more wood meant a box could be constructed. At that time though all paled in comparison to the magical occasion where someone "found" enough wood for a backyard half-pipe. Sorry kids but i think it's my generation's fault construction sites are now all fenced off.
i could do a whole entry on those backyard ramps but i'll move on, as those youthful building practices started to migrate out of our family's yards and into the broader corners of suburbia. When i was in junior high Burger King tried to build right outside of our local strip-mall. Land was cleared, foundation was poured, then suddenly there was an overnight public outcry. Neighbors started picketing and things got pretty heated. It was crazy. Something about traffic, residential... i don't know i was just a kid but construction came to a complete hault and the King was driven out of town by villagers with torches. Years later McDonalds built on the very same site, the whole protest was probably started by Ronald.
That summer was a dream come true: fresh concrete and a smattering of building supplies. We set up rails of all fashions and heights going down into the foundation (probably better birth control than condoms... ouch). Any wood or metal signs became ramps, it was great! We all just told our parents we were going to each other's houses in those wonderful days before cell phones left us trackable. Peter Pan's crew had nothing on us.
All DIY spots are enjoyed on borrowed time. That's part of the joy and excitement. If you don't hit that trick today, who knows if it will be there tomorrow. Today might be your only chance so every day was ALL IN. In high school we found a old storage unit by the tracks. Again we built what we could with what was there and always had a eye on an escape route if need be from either cop or strung out bum. We all had our tetanus shots up to date so it was all good.
In college i got to experience a much bigger urban environment and proportionally better DIY spot. Someone found a loose sheet of plywood on one of the back windows of a boarded up car dealership. With plenty of other business around to park at we'd all discretely sneak over and in to this hidden gem right under everyone's noses. That place became 2 floors of skatepark. Somehow folks even managed to get a few couches into that place, although i'm still unsure how. Ultimately someone bought the land and i heard a few skaters got arrested when caught there but man i would have paid good money to have seen the new owner's face when he entered his property to find a skatepark.
The Portland DIY is crushed but if it isn't rebuilt in it's current location a new one will inevitably sprout up. If i found out tomorrow that there where two others out there in our city that i didn't know about i wouldn't be surprised. We build, they destroy, we create again. Skateboarders put cockroaches to shame when it comes to adaptability. Skateboarders are a renewable resource and creativity is an infinite resource.