Copenhagen was kick ass. I’ve never been to a city like this in my life. We drank our share of Akvavit, ate plenty of smoked eel, and spent nowhere near enough time skating at Faelledparken. As you can tell the park was insane. It was far from finished, but still better than 90% of the parks I’ve been to in the states. Grindline is sick as hell, and this will be no exception. There were a few locals destroying the place as well. Sorry guys my photos don’t do your skating justice. I can’t wait to watch Rune shred this place.
Ok so I’m back. I had an incredible time in Ireland and Denmark. While both countries were amazing, both were quite different in many ways. The people, art, music, architecture, food, beer, booze, and culture were mind blowing in both countries. You know what we focus on here though so let’s get to it. The skating was a trip to say the least. The Grindline Copenhagen post will be up later, but for now let’s talk about Ireland…
I was in Ireland for a wedding. Irish weddings do live up to the hype by the way. Prior to heading over there I searched for some skateparks in and around the town of Westport, and came up with very little. My hopes weren’t high since this is a rough time of year to be heading to the emerald isle. Little did I know that there was a brand new park being built in this small town, and that we would have crazy good weather during our 5 days there. I skated over to the park and have never come across rougher roads in my life. Skating street is almost impossible. I had heard about the park the night before at the pub, and that every kid in town had the itch. Landscaping around the park wasn’t finished, and there was a ton of dirt and gravel in certain areas, but after a little shirt sweeping everyone was ready to shred.
Clearly there wasn’t much to this park as far as terrain. Some boxes, a step up, a mini clamshell quarter, some hubbas, rails, etc. It definitely wasn’t designed by Grindline, but lots of fun none the less. The attitude there was like no other place I had been in my life. Throughout Westport the people were never afraid to share a high five, a pint, and a bullshit session (my kind of people). The kids were just as hyped on life, and just as full of fire. Immediately I was swarmed at the park. The rats over there are what real skating is all about. Some of the questions were the same…do you know any pros? What tricks can you do? What kind of board is that? All the usual shit. There were park heroes, and tales of out of town kids coming in and destroying the place etc.
Not one of these kids were afraid to ask questions, and very few were trying to be too cool. They had none of the tight jeans or ironic hipster bullshit that seems to infest many of the kids over here. They were just psyched to skate. These kids thought I was the shred (let me clarify that I absolutely am not the shred) and wanted to follow me to each corner of the park. When I slammed you would have thought the world stopped. “Are ye ok?” They wanted to learn and progress like all other kids, and after warming up were ready to haul ass and push each other to get better. Heelflips were “class” (I disagree), Five0’s were “brilliant” (totally agree), and Manuals were “legendary.”
As a side note I would like to point out that I keep saying “kids”. There’s a reason for this. The only people over age 14 were parents (or uncles) there to watch. In fact word traveled around town pretty quick that the big old yank was skating the park. I had parents in pubs approaching me and saying how blown away their kids were by the old guy, and they wanted to know how a man my age (33) was still out there risking life and limb. I always have to deal with the whole you still ride a skateboard? question over here also, but there it was unheard of. In Salt Lake I run into lots of guys my age and older at the park or in the streets. Some of us are there with our kids, and some are there just to rip. In California it’s even more prevalent.
The local rippers in Westport Ireland County Mayo (Up Mayo) are one of those reasons I still risk “life and limb” skating. I’m inspired by people with little pretense, lots of heart, and a deep rooted desire to have fun. The youth in that town get it. Some skate fast, some are trying to be tech gnar, and some are just stoked to be pushing around (I tried to explain how important style was too, but not sure how well it came across). The bottom line is this. In a world where the skate youth care more about how they look, who did what trick at what spot, and which “kook” they should rip on, these kids remain isolated from that. It’s just about fun. I hope it stays that way. My guess is that in 20 years or so a few of these kids… maybe Killian (his Dad’s a cop and said it was fine they skate there even during construction) or my friend Oisin (whose dad Frankie owns the best restaurant in town An Port Mor) will be there with their own kids, in an even bigger park, having just as much fun. They better be since I plan to show up with my grandkids and rip that place again. Huge thanks to the Kelly family and everyone in the town of Westport for the trip of a lifetime.
Edition 2: Shoes
Even though I only picked three to review, this is a post that could go on for days. Shoes are the most important part of your setup. I know for surfing and snowboarding shoes aren’t quite as big of a deal. However, in skating shoes are the most integral component outside of your quiver. When I was a grom “skate” shoes were Vans, Vision Street Wear high tops, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, or just whatever shoe you happened to skate in. Shoes were (and to some degree still are) how you wore your badge as a skate rat when you weren’t pushing. If the new kid in school showed up in some Airwalks in 87′, the poser test was on. “You skate?” “How high can you ollie?” Eventually he would have to prove it. It used to be a rare thing that a shoe company would focus solely on skateboarding as a demographic. As you all know now, this shit is everywhere. Usually surf kids skated too, and would wear skate shoes. Eventually snowboard kids would rock em, and now the little fat douche down the street wears his signature DC Dyrdeks just to play Xbox and eat nachos. I do love nachos though….won’t hold that against him. Anyway, being a grown-ass man that still skates, I rock skate shoes. Grown-ass man skate shoes…
First and foremost: The Gravis Dylan
You knew this shit was coming right? I know I know we’ve all seen “Dylan” the movie. No doubt that the kid destroys it. Dylan Rieder absolutely rips. So what happens? A snowboard company that makes skate shoes gets Arto on board (I’m sure for a a fat sum), and then brings on the kid from Westminster. He gets clean, puts out an insane video part, and takes a huge risk on his signature shoe. Hence we have the “Dylan.” These are very close to grown-ass man shoes. Unfortunately they’re a little closer to college hipster shoes. I love that both Gravis and Dylan took a huge risk stylistically though. These look like slip on dress shoes (great for when you need to get formal), feel like slippers, and wear like skate shoes..sort of. Unless you were lucky enough to get 1 of the 240 limited pairs in oxblood, you’ll have to settle for black wrinkle or asphalt. The look is great. The style is a little too fixed gear for me, but certainly acceptable for most grown-ass men. These shoes are definitely comfortable also. My only real beef is skatability. Yes you can feel the board nicely and yes you feel light and sleek for sure. I like durability though. The leather holds up pretty well and I love that there’s no laces to rip and replace, but there seems to be almost no cushioning. Zero high tech anti heel bruise technology going on here. I’m not looking for bulky D3’s by any stretch, but I need a little more sustenance.
Over all I give em: 3 rare steak Pho Bowls.
photo courtesy of activerideshop.com
Second up: Lakai Belmont
Gotta love Lakai right? The Belmont’s are bad ass too. These come in black or brown leather. The vulcanized Belmont is crazy comfortable as well. I love the look. You can rock em damn near anywhere. These are almost the perfect grown-ass man shoes. If it’s good enough for Rick Howard it’s good enough for me. These shoes skate like a sonofabich also. The Belmont is sleek enough to feel what’s going on, and durable enough to take a decent beating. The leather’s tough and the rubber will hold fast like an old pirate. These aren’t full time skate shoes, but I’m definitely still a fan. Chill in em, skate in em, or play frisbee with narwhals in em.
Over all I give the Belmont: 4 stars.
photo courtesy of lakai.com
Finally the: Supra Skylow.
These kicks are sweeter than yoohoo. The Skylow is the Chad Muska Signature shoe. They’re an amazing all around grown-ass man shoe. They come in a few different colors (especially if you go for the Skylow 1.5). The look is skate casual for sure, but good for most occasions. They’re also vulcanized, with extra cushion in the heel, and the Skylow is pumped full of “Suprafoam”. Not sure what that is, but it sounds technical and awesome. These are basically super durable, high quality skate shoes, that don’t look stupid off board. My only slight drawback is if you have wide flintstone feet like me, they will be a touch snug. I’m sure The Muska rips roads, makes beats, and gets artsy in these bad boys. He’s got steez, not you. Throw on the Skylows and you might get some shine too.
Over all I give em: 4 finger rings and 2 Venice Boomboxes.
photo courtesy of sneakernews.com