I love skateparks. They are such a triumph, for me as their visitor and for their very existence. And there really isn’t anything more impressive than the do-it-yourself skatepark. You probably have heard of the original, Burnside Skatepark in Portland (Oregon), a skatepark that’s almost as old as my skating career. I have also been to Washington Street Skatepark in San Diego, a pretty impressive beast of DIY evil genius. But to me FDR Skatepark in Philadelphia will always be the DIY skatepark that got me into skating big, messy skater-made parks.
One funny thing about DIY parks is that they are often extremely difficult to skate. This is in part due to the fact that they are put together in a fairly unplanned, hackneyed manner. They also usually feature rather inconsistent concrete, especially when compared to the professionally-built skateparks that are now a common feature of so many towns and cities across the nation. So you kind of need to learn how to skate a park like FDR, and I don’t think that’s a mistake of the builders: part of making a DIY park is that you do so to create a space that’s not going to be overrun by every person who owns some rolling device with two-to-eight wheels attached to the bottom of it. There’s quite obviously a very strong connection between DIY skateparks and DIY punk shows: both require a bit more from those who participate. You need to be ready for a bit of a mess and little bit less safety to enjoy the DIY versions of what can now be enjoyed at manicured concrete parks and in manicured concert halls.
This “selfie” was shot at FDR pretty recently on a trip to Philadelphia visiting my pal Adam Goren. Adam has accompanied me on FDR runs going way back, and with every visit the park has expanded. Do I know how to skate FDR? Not really, and that is why I know well enough to show up relatively early in the morning, the hour for the kooks among us.