The more accurate translation of “there are no spots in New York anymore” is “we’re just sick of the spots we have.” I remember having a conversation with someone — I forget who — from a plaza-abundant city, and expressing jealousy over their ability to skate a Straight Fucking Ledge™ in an unconfined city space. The response? “Yeah, but at least there are slappy curbs everywhere you go…I wish we had that.” The grass is always greener on the other side, but one or two bust-free ledge spots for miles of metal curbs seems like a pretty no-brainer trade on our end.
For us, this devolution into “crust” happened in the early 2000s because all the “normal” spots became busts (part due to post-9/11 security, part due to more skaters skating them.) And now, with reinvigorated Midtown Manhattan coverage and footage of people charging in security’s faces, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. Rather than navigating sixteen cracks and a seven-foot sandpaper roll-up, people are going back to the same front desk facing office building spots three times in one hour, just hoping to crack the code. And it’s understandable: most of us over trying to figure out how to skate Mambo Bar in its third generation of skatestopping attempts.
The greener grass convo came to mind watching Yardsale‘s new east coast tour video. Now, London is by all means a crusty skate city, but being based there, these guys are an hour or two-hour flight to any marble European plaza you can name. Instead, they’re electing to fly across an ocean to skate the stoops of abandoned rowhouses, and courtyards of Jersey City project buildings. Their video is the antithesis of a “six-state east coast trip” in that they could not be less interested in skating Muni, that spot in Princeton, or Pulaski. (I saw the shot of the Capitol Building and thought, here it comes. But nah.)
Talk to a couple foreigners, and you’ll realize how random their takeaways from American culture are. I have one European friend who confessed his childhood dream was to go to a frat party “like in the movies.” There is no denying that there’s an inherent Americanness to the east coast and Rust Belt neighborhoods that breed the types of spots the Yardsale guys were after. (Palace seems to have some sort of Detroit video on the way, too.) Beyond the tricks, watching their journey gives a subconscious peek into what their foreign brains find interesting and worth exploring in our homeland.
Skate travel in and of itself is the search for greener grass — the preferred shade of green depending on whose eye is doing the looking. We might roll our eyes at infinite slappy curbs, but is it really any different than asking our Barcelona tour guide, “why don’t you guys skate this?!” only to receive a shrug as a reply? One man’s Catalonian plaza is another man’s Divison Street Triangle, I guess.