It is no secret that we spend an inordinate amount of time in caged in, flat spaces. And it is no secret — as much as we may try to glamorize it — that it gets old after a while. With open road season in the northeast coming to a close, we hit I-95 one last time this fall. Except rather than going to surefire crutches like Eggs or Pulaski, we aimed for something a little different, and a little less…flat. We loaded up the three or five people in the crew adequately versed in skating transition for an atypical QS journey. We went to concrete skateparks, and ended up leaving something permanent behind us in the end (more on that later.)
The concrete skatepark is a relatively new phenomenon in New York. Sure, Owl’s Head has been there for a decade-and-a-half, but the recent surge in parks popping up everywhere is only ~five years old. It also came after we spent much of the 2000s languishing in pre-fab purgatory. Even then, if you heard some of the stories from people tasked with negotiating the skaters’ side in building a park, you’d want to strangle yourself with the red tape. We have one of the three largest city economies in the world; the level of bureaucracy that comes with each one we’re fortunate enough to have is unparalleled. Hopefully, the stadium-lit volleyball courts out on Tribeca piers have an easier time getting built…
New England embraced outdoor and public concrete parks long before we did. That’s mostly due to two people: Sloppy Sam, who founded Breaking Ground Skateparks, and Jeff Paprocki, who now owns Paprocki Concrete & Masonry. Both of them navigated the laws and public works departments that vary between every New England town to create much of the vast network of parks that exists up there today. Once you stop by Frank Pepe’s in New Haven and make it into the eastern half of Connecticut, it’s possible to spend the day hitting three or four unique parks, all thanks to these dudes. They aren’t “D.I.Y.” creations in the grey understanding that we have of that phrase, but it’s obvious they wouldn’t exist without the saintly proactive efforts of a few individuals. “It’s all about knowing the right person to talk to.” And also having the right crew around you.
As prefaced on Wednesday, set building employs a large portion of skateboarders in New York. Thanks to the support of Levi’s Skateboarding, we were able to get some funds to throw a contest between a few of the shops out in Brooklyn.
The premise is simple, shoot a video with each respective shop’s employees skating only their workspace. Each had a little over a month to complete the task, and could take any route they wanted. A few weren’t able to come through due to the time demands of the job (always next time), but we got two solid entries from two of the larger skater-run shops: Pink Sparrow and Ready Set. Check below.
The winner gets $3k for their team. We gonna let the streets decide who wins.
Who should get the $3k?
Pink Sparrow (51%, 3,647 Votes)
Ready Set (49%, 3,540 Votes)
Total Voters: 6,619
Voting ends May 31st, 11:59 P.M. May the best team win. Have a good weekend ;)
Beyond the unwritten rules and manual labor behind Shorty’s, at the end of the day, it’s simply just one of the best places to skate in the area. Quartersnacks has always been partial to skateboarding administered on low ledges and flatground, but we stepped out of our comfort zone and enlisted some independent contractors for the this edit. Between helping out with the build (which, by the way, already has a new extension on it and a clam shell forming in the corner), this is what we pulled through with. We tried to use to Luther Vandross Brick City Street Styles montage as a reference for this one, except it’s impossible to make something as good.
Thanks to Levi’s Skateboarding for their support in helping us leave something permanent behind at the spot :)
There is nothing as not-on-brand for QS as a D.I.Y build. Pouring concrete is #manly, but it is not #fashionable. Those guys are core to the bone and have nothing but heart; we’re a bunch of bums trying to drink ice coffee and maybe skate flat. When Levi’s Skateboarding approached us with the opportunity to sponsor a D.I.Y. build, we were completely lost. What do we do, and how do we stay #onbrand?
Thanks to some connections through mutual friends, we linked with the crew at Shorty’s. The solution was to turn the build into one big party. Shorty’s is now perhaps the only spot in the world where ramps are built not only with blood, sweat and tears, but also with champagne. Cabana rap, Ultra Premium Vodka, and buxomly proportions naturally followed suit.
If anything, this experience heightened already-high levels of respect for dudes who go the distance of building places like Shorty’s. Having never been around for the construction of anything more than a ledge, as an outsider, its easy to neglect all the small steps behind these sort of spaces (e.g. the fact that they have to cut into the ground with an electric saw, and chip the floor out to make the transitions flush with the ground.) Also, a truck full of eighty-pound concrete bags goes way less of a ways than we ever imagined. It’s barely enough for half of a mid-sized quarterpipe. No wonder Home Depot loves these guys so much.
Space in New York is a precious commodity. Lots rarely sit vacant, building foundations are never left undone, and an open area seldom exists without a security booth watching over its perimeter. The Volcano was an isolated incident. D.I.Y. in New York peaks at the B.Q.E. lot, where a few pillars form quarterpipes and banks, which then get backed into by trucks every few months and ruined. A wide open space is too precious for developers to neglect, and neglect is how every great D.I.Y. story begins.
Shorty’s is the most recognizable D.I.Y. spot the the greater New York metropolitan area today (first brought to the world’s attention by Fred Gall’s “Scum League” series), and it sits in an abandoned warehouse amid an industrial zone outside the city. The nearest train station is a thirty-minute skate away. Skateboarders need to go quite far to be left alone these days.
The spot was started by a bunch of locals living not-too-far-away, in the most ramshackle skate house imaginable. After eyeing the space, the original plan was to cement a few barriers and see how much they could get away with in incremental doses. The volatility with these sort of spaces is high: there’s never such thing as a truly “abandoned” space. All it takes is for one person with oversight to get pissed off about it. Luckily, that *knock-on-wood* hasn’t happened. Shorty’s began with a small volcano in February 2011, and has bloomed into three walls of obstacles.