Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding Part 2

“”What bothers me is the particular breed around here[…] M. Mehlman

Welcome to the second installment of Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding. During the late 1980s and early 90s, Mystic Connecticut, with its quaint and quiet streets and drawbridge that halted traffic 2,200 times per year, was the perfect place for a bunch of misfit kids to gather, ride skateboards, and have scorn heaped upon us by nearly ever merchant in town except Dan Curland at Mystic Disc. This was a time when lifelong relationships were formed and it is because of those relationships that I am able to cobble together the myriad memory fragments into something resembling a memoir. Welcome to part two: The Post High School Days.

As far as my crew and I are concerned, the skate scene in Mystic would have been very different if it wasn’t for “the booth.” The booth, located at 9 Water Street, was the place I worked managing the parking concession for The Landing Restaurant. It was there where I met the crew of dudes who I’ve now been friends with for over 30 years.

The booth very quickly became a refuge for the skateboarders of downtown Mystic. Back in 1987, we, the skateboarders of Mystic, were not exactly loved. As mentioned in part one, the merchants hated us, the jocks and jerks wanted to beat us down, and the cops did their best to arrest us. The booth was a place my friends could ditch their boards, huddle around the tiny heater in the middle of winter, or peruse the collection of off brand pornographic magazines that may or may not have been purchased by the oldest kid in the group.

The act of skateboarding, being both a creative and physical pursuit, seems to cement friendships quickly. The guys who hung around the booth started packing themselves into my 1978 Mercury Bobcat to go on skate adventures. It wasn’t long before we, with a nod to the world-famous Powell Peralta Bones Brigade, were known as the Bobcat Brigade.

These adventures took us all over Connecticut, into Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and as far north as Maine. While visiting these places, we inevitably met other skateboarders who would occasionally share skate spot information, or better yet, lead us to their favorite spots. These were the years when skateboarding felt like the only important thing in the world. All one had to do was be willing to try, sometimes despite better judgement and usually at the risk of physical injury and pain, and the respect of other skateboarders was earned.

Through the countless connections made by being as mobile as an old Mercury would allow, we discovered numerous hidden gems. When we weren’t skating Kaplan’s, the parking lot, 12 Water Street, or the Mystic Train Station, we could be found at places such as the Norwich Pool, Fish Ditch, Rat Hole, behind Benny’s, Case Ramp, Firehouse Curbs, about a million hill bombs, Mansion Ramp, Blues Ramp, College Hill, Turtles, the Sk8 Hut, Water Bros., Newport, and many, many more. The more adventure we sought, the more we found. We were becoming skate nomads without ever being aware of it. We were dedicated to skateboarding because it never let us down. We consumed it as it consumed us. We weren’t just kids with skateboards, we were skateboarders.

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding Part 1.

Welcome to the first installment of Mystic Mythology: Skateboarding. During the late 1980s and early 90s, Mystic Connecticut was a bustling hub of skateboarding activity. The merchants hated us, the jocks and jerks wanted to beat us down, and the cops did their best to arrest us. It was kind of an ass-backwards paradise for us punk-rock misfits and I don’t think any of us would have had it any other way. *Please note: some of the details here have been blurred, not for the purposes of artistic license, whatever that means, but due to the fact that I wasn’t taking notes back then, my only access to photography was an OLD Kodak Instamatic, and, quite frankly, I’m getting old. Welcome to part one.

When I turned 12, way back in 1980, I got the one and only thing I wanted for my birthday; a plastic yellow skateboard. It had translucent yellow wheels, loose and loud ball bearings, a tiny kick-tail, and an even smaller pointy nose. I saw it in the Benny’s department store in downtown Groton near the bikes my parents couldn’t afford and I became obsessed with it, pestering them every time we stepped into that store.

After months of begging, cajoling, and promising that I would be careful to not hurt myself, my fantasy of becoming a skateboarder became a reality. On the last day of November, that little skateboard was mine. It did, however, come with a catch, I could only ride it if I promised to wear a helmet. I was crestfallen. If that wasn’t enough, my parents, without consulting me, had gone ahead and purchased a helmet for me and it was quite possibly the most hideous thing I’d ever seen. Instead of an actual Pro-Tec skateboard helmet, my parents purchased a Cooper SK 100 hockey helmet that looked like it was made out of plastic milk jugs. Imagine, if you will; an awkward husky kid from a trailer park, wearing off-brand shoes purchased from the Railroad Salvage store and thrift store ToughSkins showing up at the quarter pipe some older kids built while wearing a beacon of ignorant geekdom upon his head. Let’s just say I wasn’t welcomed with open arms.I was determined, though, and didn’t let those gawking teenage boys bother me. Growing up in a trailer park had prepared me for a life of derision. Instead of trying to overcome the perceived adversity, I would walk past, doing my best to ignore the taunts, and head up the hill behind my house to figure out how to ride that useless plastic toy.

On day one, despite countless promises to be careful and not hurt myself, I did exactly that. On day one I learned two very important lessons: what speed wobbles are and what road rash is. My mother was not impressed.

Covered in scabs, but undaunted, I persisted. On day two, the speed wobbles also persisted, but it was on that day that I learned the importance of “run-out.” This gently curving road had two distinct sides to it: the safe side, with sloping manicured lawns, and the suicide, filled with rocks, briars, and trees. On day two, I discovered that bailing at speed onto a nice, soft lawn required almost no first aid, only soap and water.

Bombing hills, surreptitious trips to the quarter pipe, and the occasional trip to a reservoir spillway that later became known as the Fish Ditch was my entire world for the first two years of being a skateboarder. I didn’t need anyone or anything else and that suited me just fine. At the time there was no way I could predict what skateboarding would come to mean to me, what doors it would open, or how it would be the common ground on which most of my adult relationships would be founded. That little, yellow skateboard, after all, was just a silly plastic toy purchased from a discount department store in the submarine capital of the world.

 

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

lost in thought

sat down with the intention of writing something
anything
and that’s when the distractions of the day became the subject of the day
the smells –
are those my shorts?
my socks?
my shoes?

sat down with the intention of writing something
anything
and instead of the esoteric, what gets tapped into instead is just so common
so basic
the vagaries of effluent discharges brought about by the bodies that live on bodies
kinda smells like shoes
or bodies on a hot summer day
or the first few minutes of sex

sat down with the intention of writing something
anything
this isn’t to say that this “subject,” this “idea,” is not worthy
it just so happens
to have nothing to do with the thought that first sat me down to open this document
but here we are
a little lost
thinking about
something other
than that which was the thought
that originally sat me down
to start typing

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

CC Poem

waiting for the break to break
for the pressure that has
over time
amassed and disrupted the peripheral priorities
the restless ones
the ones where longing lingers
the ones that lead me
lie to me
tell me what I want to hear when I want to hear it – they are sweet nothings

the whispers wash over me in waves
they swirl and eddy
they push and pull and vie for attention
some undue
some worthy of

investment

attention

time

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

I don’t know what to title it

I don’t know what to title this piece of writing.
It feels like a suicide note, but there’s no way it could possibly be such a thing.
But I do hate the demon.
The DEMON.
Always lurking.
Maybe it’s a homicide note.
DEMON must die.
Doesn’t make sense.
It’s inside me.
It is me.
I made it.
It’s mine.
So what do I do?

There’s a certain pain to it.
Like a sickness.
Chronic.
Always there.
Always lurking.
Sometimes fine.
Sometimes nasty.
Sometimes nastier than most.
So, how then?
Who then?
What do I do, then?

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

If I knew, I wouldn’t write poetry

this thing, inside, that makes us do the things we do,

what is it called again?

do we call it instinct?

the will to live?

Is this how we perpetuate the species?

what if you are like me?

what if you like the same thing that you already are?

what if, like me, you prefered the same ol’ thing with the same ol’ ending?

 

a flash

a splash

a glimmer into that once forgotten

a dip into that fruitless endeavor for one more try

for one more go

into that foregone conclusio

Walk at Dawn

the sky is still blue
the sky is still and blue
the sun only hints at being a part of this like we are a part of this
in this middle of it all
this field
where this field and the makeshift pavement meet like an indecision
bits of one strata dissolving into another
the normally tall golden stalks of grass
erect and proud, now weighed down
with the seriousness of the night before
fleeting
the cool and damp
the incremental impact
the slight change in the atmosphere
as if from positive to negative
and back again

we join hands
one of us shivers
the difference is imperceptible
neither of us speak
as we step in unison
forward
the sky is lighter though not bright
the birds have taken notice and the edges of the field start to come alive
the grasses, their heads full of seeds, crane slightly as the defining forces stoically imply their will
almost with each step there are changes taking place
where our feet meet the ground
where the wet of the grass, on careful occasion, meets with our flesh in dewey transference
a diamond exchange
an offer glistening
pausing, glistening, dropping to the ground

up the hill
around the corner
in amongst the cattle that come into focus as the day makes its way
there is less blue now
more bright
the balance is tipping
the winds are rising ever so slightly
the mist gives way to a clarity upon which we both remark
it feels good
less alone
more engaging
the individual parts, as we make our way along a ridgeline trail, integrate
root, rot, branch, the slight trickle of a spring bubbling up out the earth’s surface
one grip tightens, the other responds
eyes meet, hearts skip a beat
down the hill we go

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

and a Pitbull named Perry

shirt tucked tightly, smoothed over the contours contained therein
the body of evidence in support of the conclusion already reached

this, not in roundabout form, no pussyfooting here, bub,
but directly, like no one I’ve ever met

the soft curves in continuation over hip and haunch where the body bends, folding softly in a series of gestures and suggestions

and somewhere in all this, the differences diminish
the distance is diminished and the gravity,
that which almost inexplicably draws one thing to another
becomes the only thing that matters

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

Kill Build

that’s when we scatter the ashes
and pull on the purse strings
in cinching it a little tighter
finished with a simple granny knot
things run their course, they always do

 

(just let it happen)

 

but there’s never any way to predict the outcome
it can only be coached along, coaxed along
molded when malleable and hardened when necessary

 

(let it happen)

 

the problem, or whatever it is
didn’t just happen, did it
the foundation of it was laid ages ago, wasn’t it
it just silts up after a while until
something must break

 

(it happens)

 

walls, will, and the will of man
all bunched up like a tense fist
you could cut it with a knife
but it probably wouldn’t help
it builds, though –
nonetheless
it builds until it’s palpable
taking on a certain dimension
a weight unto itself

 

(happens)

 

it builds until it spills
and it’s like the cascade can’t stop
and we all give in and watch it crumble
or better yet, watch it burn

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With:

Answerable

the call came
the call for words
letters forming words
words forming strings of meaning
meaning that has yet to be discovered

this is what happens
the indefinite asserts itself
a drifting of sorts without any intention
intending to, but not quite capable of execution
the intent or execution to make this the here and now

Show Other Posts Also Tagged With: