I am a skater first and foremost (a writer second, a beer geek third), however my legs are thirty years old so I can’t jump down twenty sets anymore, but when my younger pals from the old peninsula made the great decision to leave Central Florida and give it one last chance at skateboarding greatness in SoCal, I jumped at the opportunity to meet them in Tampa to celebrate one last session, one last hoo-rah!
Sidenote: we recently lost a member of the old crew and this was a dedication to his legacy: a wild visage, a time machine.
I flew to Florida from NYC to say goodbye, but of course I couldn’t go without my board. The other who shall remain nameless live in worse places like horrible Houston and such, so they too jumped at the opportunity to ditch the kids and once again be kids ourselves.
In a world of chaos and newness and air, especially fine gone goodbyes, a skateboard is, to those in the know, a sense of Zen calm, like a teddybear when young and scared of the dark. Skateboarding is not a sport, it is art, it is a lifestyle.
Even when we are 80 we will be wearing Vans and I-Paths and DVSs, etc.
As per usual with Florida summers, it rains every single day; torrential downpours for an hour or two, which makes town self-skating tours very difficult. After several sadnesses, my old school crew made an appearance at SPoT, where Ryan Clements gave us all hugs and we proceeded to pop a few 50-50s, some mini-ramp action and ate good Florida food, like gator tail, and drank good Florida beer (yes, it does exist).
SPoT’s new store in Ybor is great and new and nice and pristine, but depressing as shit because these little brats can pop-shove-it my damn rental car. I used to be one of these brats hanging out at University Surf and Skate in Orlando. I’d like to think that when we were young skate rats we had more respect…and we definitely listened to better music. I wondered to myself if these kids would still be kicking and pushing twenty years later like us. I always say that going to Florida is like going back in time. I think the same could be said for anyone who got out of their hometown, made something of themselves and then on rare occasions finds themselves back in the place of their artistic birth.
Shit, Nickleback was on the radio, still, to this day, and after all this time travel and screaming young vibrant skate rats milling about, we were in need of some adult beverages.
And you wouldn’t think it but the craft beer movement has even made its way to stagnant unartistic Florida. Yuengling has a factory just outside of Tampa which is great and reminds us all of college. However, the Sunshine State now has more than 30 operating craft breweries, with many more in the works. I was prone to a sweet summer brew called Orange Blossom Pilsner. Cigar City was a classic amongst most.
The bar even let us keep the Cigar City glassware we used.
After the booze and the rigmarole, we all thought it would be a great idea skate and push around downtown Tampa, which, by the way, is always a ghost town. Needless to say those beer glasses the kindly cute Greek bartender gave us all ended up broken. Slim Slimey Pete even cut his hip on one while he was trying to kick flip a Vespa.
Good journeys and great stories end in blood shed, especially after good beer and lots of lost laughter.