When I started skateboarding in 1985, there were no skateparks around to speak of…well, none that I knew about anyway. We did have a bunch of backyard ramps where I grew up in Brick, as well as a pool in Lake Riviera. The old blue fiberglass ramps were scattered throughout town from the Fiber Ryder Park of the 1970’s. When the park closed, these ramps ended up in the backyards of various skaters. Twelve foot vert ramps, four foot “VERT” ramps, and bowls. The best of the Fiber Ryder Park including a large four foot bowl, was set up at the steel works off Drum Point Road. These ramps were slippery, and overall, the transitions were pretty steep, especially when you were a little kid. I skated them often my first year on a skateboard, but admittedly, I wasn’t going to be a sick vert skater at the rate I was going.
I had always been more attracted to street skating, on every level it just seemed more approachable to me. My skateboard heroes weren’t the fully padded guys flying way overhead. I was digging on the guys doing judo airs off launch ramps, ho-ho’s in the middle of the street, or doing slappies on painted curbs. The street skaters like Mark Gonzales, Natas Kaupus, Eric Dressen, and the soon to be famous New Jersey wonder kid Mike Vallely. They were the skaters blowing my mind.
Soon enough I was building my own version of street obstacles I was seeing in videos or at the local ESA contests. I had a variety of makeshift ramps, wedges, sliders, and quarter pipes. Most of my early ramps were dangerous and shitty to say the least. More than a few of my friends broke a bone in front of my parent’s house back in those days.
As I got better at building the ramps, I started selling them to other skaters. Eventually, with a few friends, I built about six different ramps and obstacles, which we pushed on skateboards about a mile through town. We set them up in a vacant parking lot next to the local skate shop at the time, Impact Zone. Kids from surrounding towns would come to skate, trade mix tapes, one-up one another and simply hang out. When Powell did a demo that summer at Brave New World, Steve Caballero and a young Colin McKay came to skate my homemade ramps with the locals. That was a pretty fucking sick day, one I haven’t ever forgotten.
Digging into my memory banks, thinking about my skateboarding past, I’m realizing for me and my generation skateboarding was all about the “do it yourself” ethic. It wasn’t to be cool or rebellious; we just didn’t have any other choice. We grew up in the suburbs, close to the beach, and there wasn’t much to skate unless we took the time to build it ourselves. There was no thought of a skatepark or anything like that, not until Matt Lewis opened the Impact Zone Skatepark, aka the Brick Skatepark, around 1992. But that’s another history lesson altogether. What I’m trying to focus on here is the DIY skate spot surge in coastal Monmouth County as it is in 2013 and I’m getting there, albeit slowly.
Please forgive my self-indulgent lamentation about how things used to be.
Recently I wrote an article about the waterfront skate spot in Asbury Park that local skaters came together to build in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s ruin. It was obvious that such a place would have a short lifespan, everyone involved knew that. But even with that knowledge, skaters young and old were out there in the harsh winter weather diligently creating their concrete heaven. It wasn’t an act of defiance or disrespect as some may perceive it. In fact, it was a display of the willingness of people to do something for themselves. Now, I understand that the land wasn’t sanctioned for skateboarding. The people who built it were aware as well. From what I hear the City of Asbury Park itself was impressed with the tenacity and work ethic of the local skateboard community.
It’s safe to say if people don’t want skaters in the streets or on their property, the town or an independent entity needs to step up to the plate. The community needs a skatepark, in the meantime skaters will do what they have always done since skateboarding began. They will simply do it themselves. There are more and more do-it-yourself spots popping up all around the county. I imagine this will be the case until action is taken to secure a solid location in the area for skateboarders.
Speaking with a local skater who will remain anonymous, here is what he had to say:
“Dudes like me have to go creeping around abandoned buildings in the middle of the night with buckets of concrete looking to create something to ride. The skate talent coming out of New Jersey gets recognition to the point of people saying “Is there something in the water over there?” Now you would figure Jersey would have some of the sickest parks in the world to foster these kids but to the contrary, we’re way behind the curve. I’ve watched and participated in the D.I.Y. scene here in central NJ starting in the late 80’s with Shark River Hills elementary…”
He then elaborated with bit of angst:
“ I’ve gotten tickets for disorderly persons and all sorts of trespassing charges in my life. Now that I’m almost 40, I live two lives: One life I worship at the altar of tradition. I’m a respectable citizen, married with children, and employed by a major corporation. The other life I worship at the altar of transition.”
It seems more spots like the one in these photos will continue to be built while we wait for our skatepark to come to fruition. The seeds have been planted. Now through the persistence of local skaters, it seems to only be a matter of time before someone does the right thing. I’m feeling positive it will be sooner rather than later…Asbury Park will have a skatepark. That is the statement of our intent.
Photo’s by Kurt Kurt Apfelbaum
PHOTO AT TOP: Wallride to fakie by Craig Stright Edge