Monday, November 17, 2008

I have always been driven by and attracted to ritual. I guess I always knew that to be the case, though you never fully confront it until you turn your life upside down, move to a new place, and then realize that after a few months new rituals have been constructed and embraced. I suspect most people are this way in varying degrees.

These days I feel off if I'm not painting models (read: skeletons and vampires these days) during the 8pm hour and listening to When Radio Was on 590 am. I'm a bit of a radio addict (almost always not music) and listening to old radio shows while painting away under my skylight is just the perfect ritual to unwind with every night. Work, the gym, and dinner are all done. Maybe some laundry is clunking away and maybe I'll watch a little tv before bed, but the core of painting and unwinding at 8pm needs to happen.

Looking back at my high school and college days and summers I am immediately reminded that each night involved skating Walgreens on Archer, may it rest in peace. Every night, seemingly always "every" in memories (we never missed a night in that warm, foggy past), we took over the parking lot with tiny wheels, huge pants, pressure flips, ollie impossibles, and every other trend from early 90's skateboarding. Plan B boards skitted everywhere and noseslides where thrown down by everyone. Pete nailed the bigger, technical tricks, while the rest of us tore up the curbs and hips within our own skill levels. Everyone could stick noseslides forever on that long, filthy black curb. I can still see the black top rushing by my feet as I started runs towards the hip.

It's all torn up and a new Jewel these days, though I know video and photos exist in boxes somewhere in my storage space as testament to it's primitive days. Painting models and listening 1940's radio brought me immediately to the sad, warm, and joyful memories of a Chicago skate spot gone the way of dodo, though it remains forever in my mind's eye as a necessary ritual of my late teens and early 20's. We never got kicked out, we could skate anytime of the day, and Walgreens happily sold us all the Iced Tea we could drink. With the exception of a burly ledge or a staircase, it was a perfect skate spot. When people ask me about skating in Chicago and all of the great spots I must have haunted downtown, I shrug and just say I skated the Greenz on Archer and Austin.

Rituals change and give way to new commitments and circumstances. A few years later Scott and I skate Sportmart on 95th and Cicero every Monday night for a few years. 9-11pm was the basic schedule.

I look back a bit misty eyed and my parking lot haunting youth, though I wouldn't have it any other way. Warhammer models point me directly to pressure flips, 360 flips, and the glory of skate videos on youtube.

Here is Blind Skateboard's "Tim and Henry's Pack of Lies" -- a great signpost of that time. I watched it dozens of times and heard the music in my ears as I put together my runs back then. It has chukka boots and EMB and everything!