Posts Tagged "Oakland"


Get your hands dirty

A new month, another skate spot getting torn down. Last week, California transportation agency / douche bag collective, Caltrans, moved forward with their aggressive plans to level any and all illegal DIY skate parks built under Oakland’s highways and bridges. On Thursday, they leveled The Spot, crushing its young life beneath merciless tire treads. In their words, they want to reclaim the space for billboard advertising… since so many people see billboards when they’re under the highway… right.

Caltrans’ crusade continues this week as their bulldozers loom over Bordertown, Oakland’s remaining concrete baby-adult playpen. In a last ditch effort to save the park, Bay Area skaters are amassing at Bordertown at 8 AM this Friday to protest the demolition and, more than likely, get arrested for trespassing. Hey, if you can’t make a change, at least you can still make a stink.

While we’re on the topic of DIY spots, the guys from 510 Skateshop, who happen to be the industrious little miscreants behind the late and great Spot, haven’t let Caltrans’ bullying discourage their work. The shop entered Spitfire and Vans’ DIY skate spot contest, which is not only a good idea for the local community, but also for the Internet community looking for some skateboarding to watch on a Thursday afternoon. Anyway, their latest creation is just as illegal as ever, and looks to capture the perfect balance between super fun and super gnarly, too — but that’s hardly a surprise given these guys’ reputation.

Considering all the hard time and potential jail time this crew has put in for Oakland’s skateboarders, the least you could do is head over to the Vans/Spitfire site and vote for them. Maybe get inspired while you’re at it — DIY projects like these show you what’s realistic and achievable if enough dedicated people put the work in. Stop complaining about how boring your city is to skate and start doing something about it, instead. Hell, you’ll be less bored already.


Skated and Destroyed

It just wouldn’t be a week in skateboarding news without a famous spot getting bulldozed to make way for an infinitely-stagnant construction site. In turn, Caltrans, a California transportation agency comprised primarily of dickheads and fun-haters, has launched a crusade against the Bay Area’s DIY skate spots. On Tuesday, workers posted a notice of encroachment on Oakland’s illegal skater-built nirvana, The Spot. By Thursday afternoon, it was rubble.

Following desperate pleas and petitions from local skaters to save The Spot, Caltrans proposed the city of Oakland lease the location for $5000 a month, a fairly reasonable offer, if by “reasonable” you actually mean “greedy and insincere.” $5000 a month for an empty lot under the freeway that developers aren’t even interested in. In fact, there are no concrete plans (ugh, no pun intended) for the space post-demolition, though Caltrans is reportedly in negotiations with a billboard company to “maybe use some of the land.” $5000 a month for some real estate in such hot demand that Caltrans might put a billboard there. But still, those nasty skateboarders! They had to go today, at 8 AM sharp no less.

oakland the spot volcano Skated and Destroyed

bulldozer destroying oakland spot Skated and Destroyed

Before and after photos courtesy of Slap Magazine.

Caltrans’ spokesperson / professional buzzkill, Bob Haus cites “homelessness issues” as part of the problem. Correct me if I’m wrong, but DIY skate parks tend to turn derelict areas where homeless people often congregate and set trash cans on fire into an active, community gathering place for skateboarders, who, generally, make the place an undesirable campground for the homeless to nod off or take shits at. You need some privacy for that kind of filth, nah’mean? Perhaps the homelessness issue in question was not the fact that it would attract bums, but instead, that The Spot pushed them out and as a result, the city of Oakland was experiencing a spillover of vagrants into areas where white voters might see them. Or, who knows, maybe Caltrans just mistook the skateboarders for homeless people. Fuck, I’m a skateboarder and even I sometimes mistake skateboarders for homeless people.

Nonetheless, skaters in the Bay Area will be more metaphorically homeless than ever after this latest blow to the local scene. Adding insult to injury, or perhaps just more injury to injury, Caltrans is on a warpath when it comes to DIY skate spots. Reportedly, Oakland’s other community-built park, Bordertown, is scheduled for demolition next. A coalition of local politicians and skaters were able to keep Caltrans at bay back in 2005 when they first tried to destroy Bordertown, and now it seems they’re hellbent on getting even.

It’s very disheartening to see such an incredible spot, that took over two years of committed work, refinement and upkeep, demolished in a matter of hours. Rest in pieces, as they say.

Unfortunately, it looks like Caltran’s negatrons have brutally defeated the optimism and hardwork of Oakland’s good-natured skatebots, but remember this my brothers — this was only one battle in our own war against the machines. We may not win in the end, but we can make things extremely inconvenient for all those bureaucratic douche bags, at the very least. Keep building, and keep skating.


Do you like to do it yourself?

Deluxe has been running its DLXMAS web feature for the entire month of December, posting a new tidbit of skateboarding detritus every day through Christmas. While unveiling the entire Real video, online, for free on Christmas morning would be an incredible payoff for the wait, somehow I think that a new trailer is probably the most we can hope to get in our stockings this year.

Nonetheless, a few days ago they posted a video of the Real team’s recent visit to Oakland’s DIY spot under the bridge, which we’ve previously covered in some detail. That little concrete mecca is looking better all the time, but that might also just be due to the fact that everything sunny and fun looks better when it’s 25 degrees in New York.

Speaking of 25 degrees… in my experience, Deluxe boards tend to take a little more abuse than some other reputable skate brands I’ve experimented with over the years. Whether or not this is true or simply personal preference codified will probably remain a mystery until the end of my skateable days, but what I can say with some certainty is that once temperatures get below freezing, a deck from Deluxe Distribution gets brittle and cracks just as easily as any other. If they could devise some new skateboarding technology that could withstand the bitter extremes of the East Coast and Midwest winters, now that would be almost as good as the Real video is going to be1.

1Hopefully I didn’t curse the whole production right there, but I feel like even the most negative vibes emanating from this corner of the Internet are completely deflected by several minutes of new Dennis Busenitz footage. If you have your doubts about that, maybe watch that web clip again.


Skate and Create

As I get older, it seems as if I’m quickly transitioning (tee hee) into a park skater. It sort of just happens, you start skating parks more often because you have more fun there than getting broke off at a haggard street spot in between waiting for pedestrians, traffic, angry dogs who are hungry for skateboarders, the list goes on ad nauseam. Then, one day, you realize you skate parks more often than anything else, and the only one who can avoid the inevitable “park skater” label is your own denial. It’s cool, mang. If Mike Carroll can do it, it can’t be that lame.

However, there is much to be said for the raw appeal of street skating at its purest, but perhaps the most personally rewarding is the fusion of raw street and sterile park. Take this video of the Bay Area locals’ new creation in Oakland for example — you’d be hard pressed to argue this isn’t some kickass skateboarding, and obviously anything “home-made” by skaters, for skaters earns major bonus points. So here are some more skate park shenanigans, but this time we get a look into the DIY nirvana under the bridge courtesy of Anti-Hero’s resident belligerent drunk, Tony Miorana.

It’ll be interesting to see how this little shit hole (and I mean that in the best possible way) develops over time. If the city doesn’t come in and fuck everything with the long dick of John Deere, this could be the next Burnside or Washington Street in a few years. Even so, the guys have already more than earned their keep. Not sure what the guy who coffin grinded the rainbow earned… other than my respect and a few bruised vertebrae icon cool Skate and Create


Drinkin' out the 40 bottle, livin' outdoors

Let’s just come out and say it. When I think about Oakland rap, I touch myself. Look at it this way… they’ve got MC Hammer. Does anything more even need to be said?

blackalicious Drinkin out the 40 bottle, livin outdoors

Gift of Gab - Photo via

Seriously though, between Del, Souls of Mischief, and my newest Oaksterdam darling, Blackalicious, the city’s pretty much got alternative hip hop zipped up. If you’ve somehow made it this far in life and are still under the impression that hip hop isn’t your thing, I would encourage you to check out the sweet sounds of the underground. This might seem hard to believe at first, but… it’s not all about money, cars and clothes. Or killing people. Although sometimes still about that.

Listen, I wore a leather jacket with spikes in it for years. And now I hate music white people make! If I could make the change, anyone can.

Blackalicious - Deception

An associate of mine recently tipped me off about Blackalicious — a duo made up of rapper Gift of Gab and DJ Chief Xcel. They’re almost a perfect hybrid of Jurassic 5 and the Hieroglyphics, along with plenty of their own creative quirks to set them apart. Absolutely worth checking out.