Vary rare exclusive interview with Pyramid Country’s Jackson Casey.

A lot of times filmers don’t get the credit they deserve. No matter how good a skateboarder is, it’s almost essential to have a talented and dedicated filmer in order to get recognition. Jackson Casey is from a small town in Michigan called Ionia (known mostly for its state prison and the Ionia Free Fair–whatever the hell that is), somewhere between Grand Rapids and Lansing. After making a few Michigan videos, he moved out to Arizona and did his own thing–made some more independent videos and started his own brand, Pyramid Country–making a name for himself and his group of friends that all skate and party together. When he first walked in the shop maybe ten years ago, probably with a half-shaved mustache, bleached hair, and adidas track pants–what the owners thought was just weird at first–he is actually one of the most original dudes we’ve ever met to come from Michigan.

While Pyramid Country was on tour through Grand Rapids, Toronto and New York, Shitfoot staff caught up with Jackson to talk about the process of growing up in a shithole town to becoming a distinctive filmer and editor in the world of skateboarding.

What was it like being a skateboarder in Ionia, MI? When did you start coming to Grand Rapids?

It was weird, man. There were a couple of really cool spots for kids who’d just begun skateboarding, though. We had a metal edged curb that went on for like 20 feet right after a crusty 4 stair. That was basically it. Oh, and a skate park that was built in a river basin that floods every year just after winter until June–you couldn’t even see the park it was that underwater. The park was also located in the Fairgrounds…which, you’ve heard of the “Free Fair.” That was always pleasant, especially when the RV campers for the week of Frazee’s fries and lemonade, corn dogs and deep fried Oreos dumped their mobile septic tanks out 40 feet from the park in some weird hole. I started coming to GR as soon as my oldest buds got their first cars, around 14. I’m really thankful I was able to get out of Ionia and see what else is out there, inspired me to get and stay the fuck out of there.

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I remember a period of time when all these dudes from Michigan were moving to Arizona, and a lot of people still do. Why Arizona instead of going a little further to maybe California?

Because California sucks dog! Haha, Arizona is really so nice. Traffic is mellow but it’s like the 4th largest city in the USA and the fastest growing, so there are new spots like daily. Urban sprawl is no joke. Everyone here is super nice with one another. It’s awesome here.

What’s Tempe Eskimos?

Top fuckin secret.

Dude. What’s Tempe Eskimos?

Hellll no.

You mean it’s printed on a t-shirt but it’s top secret? 

It’s not something to openly speak on bud. Blood in blood out.

I fuck with that. Speaking of t-shirt, the most thug-ass dude from the projects just bought one of your tees from us. Like this dude seriously showed me a picture of him and his homies on his birthday wearing the “coldest fit” that included a DGK bucket hat with matching button down shirt. He’s like, “I had this on with the all white Vans…Them other dudes just wearing they hood rat shit!” And he was super hyped on the discount Compton bucket hat in the aqua color. And now he wears Pyramid Country. 

Hahahaha hell yeah that’s tight.

It seems that having a dedicated filmer is crucial for any skate scene, and especially for skateboarders who have come up in the industry. Did you ever realize you wanted to take on that role of being a filmer?

I realized it when I moved to AZ with hopes of primarily skateboarding and maybe getting some tricks of myself–then my first night in AZ I went to the skate park and ended up skating with Robbie Brockel, Justin Modica, Jonathan Pierce, John Rob Moore, etc. It blew me away to see dudes of that caliber back then–guess it still does. But it was shocking, so I figured fuck it, I’ll just focus more on filming and editing better, then who knows, maybe someday I’ll be able to keep skating because of that.

What was the first video you watched, and what are some of your favorite videos that still get you stoked?

The first video I watched was Fulfill The Dream…but I was most hyped on This Is Skateboarding. I’d fall asleep to that VHS every night when I got it. Can’t Stop The Firm was the last video I really really got into.

I’ve noticed every time we’ve skated that you never complain about how long it takes to get a trick, and by the time it’s landed it’s on to the next spot. Sometimes it takes hours. Do you ever want to just say fuck it and drop the camera and skate?

I usually try to skate while people warm up. In my head I think I’m better at skating than I really am and think, “oh I could totally fuck this spot up,” but I really can’t. So by the time someone wants to film something, I’ve usually realized I got nothing for the spot and just kinda come to terms with “I’ll be here ‘til the batteries are dead or the trick is landed.” Its nice–helps me be patient in a really instant world.

I’ve also noticed we do a lot of car camping, or driving around from spot to spot. Is it because it’s hard skating with a big crew a lot of times, or is it just because everything is more spread out there in Arizona? Do you guys ever just go pushing around downtown Phoenix?

We do skate around, but there aren’t a ton of spots. We made “The Phoenix Lights” in a few months and basically hit every nightspot we could think of–and in doing so we kind of made downtown a bust. There’s usually a pretty sizeable crew. Not to mention it’s fucking hot out here dude. AC is dope and so is being able to drive to get gallons rather than skate around with that shit. You also need extra shirts and shit sometimes. Nice having a car on the session…Bondo, signs, you name it. Shits way more spread out in AZ. Cars kinda essential. Plus, I’ve noticed there’s a spot in every village, town, city, etc. Might as well drive to all of ‘em and see what happens.


 

“That’s like telling Michael Jordan his basketball dunks itself really well, or telling Bill Cosby the Quaaludes rape super well. Too much? Fuck rapists.”


I’m pretty sure every filmer gets this question, but are you strictly VX now or do you ever see yourself filming HD?

I’m not really partial to either side of the argument. I like VX1000 for skating and I like HD for everything else, basically. But I film with a few people in HD for other projects they need filmed for and it’s kinda more fun, way more versatile and way easier to capture. It’s easier to get good-looking skate footage with a VX for sure. I really don’t care too much, I guess. My friend Patrick and I joke a lot about when girls say, “Your camera takes such good pictures!” It’s dumb as fuck. That’s like telling Michael Jordan his basketball dunks itself really well, or telling Bill Cosby the Quaaludes rape super well. Too much? Fuck rapists.

Haha hell yeah, never too much.

You just released a new full-length video for Pyramid Country called Exeter. What’s the story behind Pyramid Country, and who the fuck is Exeter?

Shit, I’ve tried to answer this a bunch. Pyramid Country is an outlet for the homies. It’s run by Myself, Bobby Green & JJ Horner. We all love doing it and wanna do whatever we can to keep all of our friends on the road, if only for one month a year. Stay young. It’s fun and we hope to keep it moving. Exeter is our friend from somewhere else; I don’t really know him that well. He’s kind of a mooch, though. Always trying to bum cigs.


 

“Stay young. It’s fun and we hope to keep it moving.”


It seems like you’ve created your own unique style as a filmer and especially with the way you edit. Each video kind of has a weird theme, like in Friends With Benefits you mixed in a bunch of black and white sci-fi movie scenes, and Exeter has an almost comic book story line. Where did that come from?

I have no idea, I don’t really watch movies or TV or anything except comedy. And my shits pretty serious sometimes, so I don’t know. I like to film stuff and let it go freely, then once things start to develop I like to adapt the storyline to what’s happened already. I don’t like plans at all, so it’s nice to let things create themselves, sorta. That’s what’s awesome about editing. You can do whatever you want. Granted, lots of our shit takes a lot of thought, but it’s a very eventual process.

Also, why are the some of the names slightly homo-erotic (Friends With Benefits, Boyish)?

Cuz when I first moved to AZ I made some homo-erotic skate montages as a joke with my friends and these dudes that were in it (that weren’t really our friends, per-se, just kinda skating) took it seriously and to heart and were super bummed to be involved. They were like, “Fuck you gay faggots” or some really, really cool shit like that. So I figured I’d just let that stigma exist and make a joke out of it to diffuse it. Or enhance it. It all worked out in the rear end.

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Another thing that makes your videos unique are the soundtracks, like that weird bedroom fantasy/slop pop shit that I really like, Adeodat Warfield. How do you find that stuff?

Music is huge. You get goose bumps from music, not so much photo or video. You feel calm listening to good music, crazy listening to shit you don’t like, and comforted by a significant other’s voice. I think it plays the largest role in emotions in regards to film. I’ve never looked at a picture and felt like, damn, lets go fucking skate!! Or lets go get hammered!! You get the point I’m trying to make I think. I spend a lot of time on YouTube, Soundcloud, trading music with Ryan Sublette, etc. Ryan (Adeodat Warfield) is a genius.

What was it like going from just having fun making videos with the homies to working with an outlet like Thrasher and running your own company?

Pretty cool, it adds a little stress but it’s mainly all very similar. Except now, we’re able to pay for gas and places to stay on trips. That makes it a lot more possible for dudes on the “team”, or our friends, to get out of work for long enough to hit the road with the boys. Thrasher has been incredible to us. Can’t thank those dudes enough, been such a rad experience.

Yes. I’m sending Thrasher an invoice for that shoutout. We were pretty lit one night after the bar and I remember you saying something about how there are people that just don’t get the difference between skating and filming? What do you mean by that?

I mean some people skate sooo well and are so talented, but their footage or skate parts fucking suck, no offense to anybody, just relative to what you know they can do. Maybe that’s out of lack of interest in filming a part? Sometimes I think it’s the editors bad as well. Filmers should film whatever, but you don’t have to use every clip a dude gets. Looks kinda shitty that way to me. On the flip side, some people can’t do shit on flatground but put out kinda rad parts. It’s mind-boggling. It’s the best to see someone who understands their talent and how videos and attention spans work. Why do a 40 second line with 30 seconds of pushing? Shit like that. It’s not that hard to see a trend in what works and what doesn’t. So it’s weird to see really talented people just not understand how to have that translate on film.

Pyramid Country is on tour and after Michigan it’s Toronto and New York. Why those cities, and what’s it like traveling with 20 dirty ass skateboarders?

Initially we were supposed to go visit and film some shit with the 1puglife guys from YouTube, the crazy Canadians who jump redneck lawn chairs off of ramps made of old washing machines and screen doors and shit. I got ahold of them and they were down for us to come up and hit some jumps and shit, but we got rained out when it was supposed to really happen. So to shape a trip around that, they are based right between Detroit and Toronto… figured fuck, I’m from Michigan, there’s mad spots there… guys would love them.. It was basically just a suggestion I made that turned into a reality. We just ran with the first idea, really. It was either that or another trip somewhere in the southwest–which is fun, but gets old. Traveling with everyone was so fucked up. I can’t describe how it felt. Basically how you’d imagine it would be–horrible and awesome.

I know the Windsor/Detroit border is strict for Americans trying to get over. What was the excuse to get 20 skateboarders across it?

We rode in three separate cars and they searched all of them, thoroughly. It was fucked. Bart Jones was with us and he had a jug of water that he wrote, “FAT GINGER JEW RETARD FAGGOT HEP-C WATER” on so nobody else would drink it. The border patrol found that and kinda thought like, these guys are all right. They hate Jews and fags too. Those people fuckin’ sucked really bad. I couldn’t believe we made it in, really. [Kevin] Skutnik was so nervous when they asked what he does for work that he did the thing where you just choke. It was fucked. There are Tim Horton’s on every corner there, too. Pretty interesting.

Seems pretty difficult skating with such a big crew in New York. What’s going to happen when a few of you don’t make it through the subway gate in time and have to wait three hours to catch up?

Funny you say that. A guy on the team hated riding the train so much. He’d get this piss-anxiety and just have to piss. So he stopped riding the train like day one, and a few people would always just posse with him. They skated from Brooklyn to Manhattan more than a few times. It was pretty fucked up, but I mean you skate so much there anyways so fuck it. It all worked out. Especially coming from Canada, where none of our phones worked, it seemed like a breeze being able to call, text, or send pins and just kinda meet whenever.

What is the future of Pyramid Country and what would you like to accomplish as a filmer?

I’m open to whatever. I’d love for Pyramid Country to grow and to continue filming. That’s all I know.

Anything you want to add?

Thanks for having us at your house. It was awesome of you guys. Nothing else. I’d just be saying thanks to more people. Thanks to all of the other people I would thank.

It was a pleasure. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us, Jack.

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Compass raw files.

Maxwell over at Compass headquarters put together a bunch of iPhone clips from our latest trip to New York this spring. “Some skateboarding, some bums having seizures, some selfie sticks, some Upstate mountain climbing, some of @mcmantits_ auditioning for Snapchat, some #JerryMraz, some @caddowski , some @local.express , some cellar door spots, some jazz. Just a normal week in the city.” Not mentioned above, captain hindsight gives us a quick tutorial on how to get dog shit off your grip tape.

In other news, the apartment banks on Jefferson and Oakes have been updated with yellow poles to try and put an end to one of our best wall ride spots. Little do they know they actually made the spot better, because now you either have to go higher or hippie jump mid wall ride, plus the poles make it look a little more urban/raw philly.

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There are now two benches at the Cherry Park TF since it was recently discovered the chain had been cut loose from the other, much less worn out bench in the playground.

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And, Grand Rapids is finally getting a skate park. It’s in a random neighborhood on Straight St. just south of Fulton on the west side. It’s getting built by Spohn Ranch, the same people that built the new Holland parks. Even though it’s only about four square feet, the brick bank and curved manual pad ledge will be worth the rough push over to the west side. Plus on every corner near the park, there’s either a bodega, a Little Caesars or a bar.  image2

More importantly there is a basketball court right next to it. #ballislife.image1-2

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Shitfoot competition team goes to adidas skate copa.

Shitfoot correspondents traveled to Louisville, KY last Saturday to compete in the Adidas Skate Copa Midwest regional contest. However, they also celebrated the recent passing of the same-sex marriage ruling that swept the nation on Friday night, which may or may not have affected their performance on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the Premier/WTFB® A-Team were delighted to find that Louisville bars don’t close until 4 AM as opposed to the 2 o’clock last call back in Michigan, and that the gay bars were free as a shout out to Supreme Court for the ruling. Apparently some counties in the KY state are still a little salty about the Court’s orders.

The blazing sun and moist Kentucky air didn’t help matters, and the portion of the “Louisville Extreme Park” Adidas chose for the contest was essentially downhill, which made it extremely easy to run out of breath after one minute of going down on the street section and skating back up to get another run for the remaining five minutes of the 4 man jam session.

Premier/WTFB couldn’t uphold their second place victory from last year in Chicago, while 3rd Lair took home their second consecutive win. Judging by their street league-like consistency, it seems they probably skate, sleep and eat dog food day in and day out at their indoor training facility in Minneapolis. Or they just don’t like to party gay.

As far as contests go, the Adidas Skate Copa is actually bearable, but mainly because Tim O’Connor is the MC, blessing the crowd with statements such as, “There goes that benihana nobody wanted to see!” and “Here comes fire crotch…Oh wait he’s Jewish, I can’t talk about fire.” One team’s run was even announced entirely as a runway show due to the unnecessary amount of sunglasses and board shorts in their line-up. But of course, as skateboarding usually goes, everyone is hated on equally and no one is safe from shittalk.

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Exclusive interview with WTFB Founder and CEO Fausto Fernandez.

Where The Fuks Bae® just dropped yet another one of the best videos to come out of West Michigan in recent years–this one filmed entirely at Grand Rapids’ original training facility, Cherry Park.

When the shop was located on Cherry for the first few years, the fairly smooth basketball court and butter bench served as the perfect warm up spot. Now the ground is a little rougher and most of the bench has melted away into the trucks of those who passed through the TF over the last decade.

There are also less stabbings and shootings in the park as the surrounding area has been gentrified and turned into a hipster neighborhood with #foodie attractions like sushi restaurants and breweries, and not to mention the ice cream parlor conveniently located next to the spot.

In light of the resurrection of the TF, Shitfoot sat down with Fausto for an exclusive interview to talk about WTFB and the creative genius behind its edits.

Shitfoot Staff: What is WTFB® and how did it come about?

Fausto: “Where The Fuks Bae!?”, it’s basically a collective of homies that try to skate the streets and freak in the sheets, we just skateboard and try to get pussy. But how did it come about? Shit man, back before WTFB Vol. 1 I would just fuck around on drunkin’ nights and film the homies wildin’ out. Eventually I had stacks of what I thought was useless iphone footage but layed out on my imovie timeline it turned into grand rapids cinema gold.

S: You film all of your videos on your phone–so are you strictly HD or do you ever plan on moving up to a VX?

F: Personally, I’m more of a VX guy. I don’t fuck with HD, but I can’t really afford either. I guess the next best option would be one of those flip cams or gopros but those don’t have tinder so thats an immediate no no.

S: You’re from Holland and you moved to Grand Rapids, and it seems like we’ve always been close with our dutch neighbors. What’s the scene like out there compared to Grand Rapids?

F: Holland is sick because of all the day one homies. They’ve taught me everything I know–“Hunnids n Fiddys big ass tittys, Count the green get in between… those tittys.” Holland is a small town, everyone knows everyone and everyone fucks everyone. As for skateboarding there goes, I’ve pretty much done every trick at every spot. There was nothing left for me to do except move to Grand Rapids and continue my spot rape extravaganza.

S: What brought you here instead of, say, New York?

F: New york is definitely on the list of cities for me to take over, but not quite yet. I figured I’d build up the WTFB empire here in the mean streets of the rue with all my real ones first.

S: Any good stories from the old Holland park?

F: Haha, damn theres so many. Almost all of them include some sort of fight due to the love hate relationship with the christian college directly across the street. Well actually it was an all hate relationship. This one summer a group of the college kids decided to start throwing water balloons off of the roof at us. A group of maybe 10 of us barged across the street and into the building to try to find the culprits. When we couldn’t find them we all retreated back to the park. No more than 10 minutes go by 3 suspect looking frat bros walk by and decided to whip a water bottle towards us, we all bolt at them, chase them across the street and right when they thought they were “safe” they stopped and turned around and right as they did that my homie full sprint superman punches the fuck out of one of the bros and strait up broke his jaw.

S: You used to be pretty thick when you lived out there, what happened? Now you’re a gorgeous Cuban missile.

F: Aw, you’re too sweet. It was probably a mixture of all the hard drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes that my doctor prescribed for me. Did I mention I got my MD degree last year?

S: I noticed you only ever go for rich white girls.

F: This is only by coincidence, I’m not saying that fine women and money don’t turn me on though. For some reason rich white girls are just drawn to me. I think its because my instagram is so well kept and hip.

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S: The music selection for your videos feels similar to the soundtrack of a Bronze video–a series of songs, usually cut short, that aren’t mainstream but definitely still go. Is that where you get the inspiration for your editing style?

F: For sure, Peter Sidlauskas has been a huge inspiration for me, as well as Johnny Wilson, and Jeremy Elkin. They’re able to capture the raw shit while keeping it fun, they bring so much emotion out of me. One minute I’m hyped, then BANG I’m sad, then before you know it I’m gay.

S: What is the future of WTFB?

F: We’re taking it to the top. Basically, I’m gonna run WTFB just like how 50 Cent did in that song “How to rob.” He disses every rapper in the game to make it to the top. I swear I’m gonna start taking heads off, I’m going to start beef with everyone. You gotta fake it ’til you make it.

S: Any parting words for those in search of bae?

F: If I catch you on my block with any of my bae prospects you better start runnin’ cuz I’m comin’ for your heads too. Fuck bois have no place in WTFB so you better take them jogger pants off and get wit it. Where The Fuks Bae out.

Editor’s Note: There has never been a need to build anything at the TF–just some flat ground and a bench is all we need for a good session with the homies. There has been talk of trying to build a ledge, but considering people actually use both the basketball and tennis courts, a DIY would only draw attention from the city as well as skate tourists, and could possibly ruin the otherwise chill spot. That’s what Clemente is for.

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Local Express premiere New York.

This past week, Shitfoot hopped aboard the Compass private jet and flew to New York. Well, Newark first because it’s way cheaper than landing in the city–we ain’t that bourgeois.

Hungover and sleep deprived, we took the train into the city and made our first stop at the Tender Trap, a BMX bar in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint that at one time wouldn’t let you in if you didn’t show up on a skateboard or a bike. The welcome sign out front reminds us, “Don’t grow up, it’s a trap.” After drinking numerous citrusy cinnamon vodka concoctions known as Cinnabags–that quench your thirst while at the same time lower your sobriety at the same rate as your bank account–we stumbled onto the subway and headed back into Manhattan.

We rolled up and found everyone waiting at the well-abused Houston Park, right next to Sunshine Cinema where the premiere was about to start. But as video premieres go, nobody really knew when it was actually supposed to start. As the sun went down somewhere, the narrow strip of clear sky–only visible between the never ending corridors of grey buildings–faded from polluted orange, to smoggy pink, then black (still I think it’s one of the more enjoyable sunsets to watch). It was time, so we stuffed our tall cans of Tecate in our pants Kids style, and with a constipated yet nonchalant stride, walked into the theater inconspicuously. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even care on account of almost everybody had booze.

John Valenti, mastermind behind Local Express, gave his profound reflective speech–“In skateboarding, people talk too much already…If you don’t like it, it’s all goodie!”

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People waiting…

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The intro was good…

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Falcon Bowse has a full part…

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And as the night went on, my memory became as cloudy as this photo here, which if you can’t tell is a clip that was filmed at Grand Rapids’ own Bosnian Banks. We made it.

The party then moved over to Max Fish, or at least a more contemporary rendition of it, a few blocks away–where in the basement one could enjoy a set by an experimental kill yourself with a hammer–type metal DJ that looked straight out of the Derelicte runway show. The rest I don’t really remember too well.

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If you happen to want to own a hard copy of the video yourself and support independent skate videos, pick one up here.

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RIP bank one.

If you haven’t heard the unfortunate news, then I regret to inform you that the fabled bank one ledge has officially been knobbed. This is a truly sad moment for skateboarding in Grand Rapids. It was only a matter of time though, considering the ledges next door were knobbed years ago right after being built.

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When I first started skating, my best friend and I would push to the city from his grandma’s house and skate all over downtown, and we always ended up at bank one. It was our EMB, or our Love Park–at least ever since the amphitheater was torn out and replaced by an ice skating rink. We’ll see how long it lasts before the knobs magically disappear in the night. For now, I’ll pour out that free cup of coffee I get whenever I make a bank run, in memory of all the nights shared at the spot. Apparently the ledges on the upper level of Ionia Street are still good, and word is they are now appropriately being referred to as bank two.

Speaking of out-ledges, there is good news regarding another classic GR spot. The Central High double set ledge has been patched up and bondo-ed. It’s still shitty. If anyone’s trying to film some bangers, there is currently a fence and a cherry picker next to it–looks so urban.

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Skateboarding is still illegal.

This month, city commissioners voted unanimously to lift the ban on skateboarding in downtown Grand Rapids. The only good thing to come out of the ordinance change is the footage of longboarders and news reporters shitkicking through the streets, and the comments posted by suburban moms who are now even more scared to enter the bustling metropolis.

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If you’re under 15–as most cops will probably assume since you’re riding a skateboard–you will be asked to stay on the sidewalk. Also, you will supposedly have to wear reflective gear or a light while pushing at night like any cyclist would–which shouldn’t be a problem considering the recent peak in the 3M fashion trend in skate attire.

Those of us who are a little salty would say the new ordinance doesn’t really do anything for skateboarders in the city. If anything, the amendment might bring more attention when cops see us downtown, because obviously “freestyle” skateboarding that defaces property is still prohibited. Or as Joe Lafurgey put it, “Trick riding would be reserved to the park.”

Even though I disagree with the commissioner when he says, “I really can’t think of anything that’s bad about a long board,” I do have to give him credit for pushing to his office in a business suit when he’s over the age of thirty.

“More proof this isn’t your father’s Grand Rapids,” said another reporter. But what’s even better are the comments posted on the news discussion boards by Grand Rapids’ most well-informed citizens. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Skateboards do not belong in the streets. Stupid idea.”

“They aren’t punks….just, well losers if you’re still doing this when you’re over 16.”

“I dont know. A year ago i saw about 12 black guys dribbling a basketball sown 28th street. For real. So lets just open the roads dor anything.”

“Clearly you’ve never tried wheels over 60mm or under 100a. Longboards are not stopped by pebbles. I can ride my transportation longboard across patches of gravel if I have to.”

“Fred, I will gladly Ollie to kick flip you right in the shins outside of Peppinos if you are game.”

In reference to the possibility of a plaza being built: “Having all the skateboarders in one place will mean the police will know where to find all the drugs in Grand Rapids.”

“Maybe Ton Hawk will come to GR to practice.”

Needless to say, it has been a heated debate. To me, the fact that skateboarding is illegal is partly what drew me into it in the first place–because it pisses some people off to see us out having fun. If some long boarders are no longer getting tickets, more power to them. But for now, I guess fortunately, skateboarding is still illegal. I will say it feels good to push down the street and not have to worry about a cop blazing on his horn mid hill bomb 10 feet behind me.

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