TT with HD: Trevor Staples
[Ed. note: The website for the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee is the organizational nexus of upcoming skatepark events. Some quickly approaching highlights mentioned in the conversation below include:
Early 80's Ann Arbor skating scene culture is at least partly documented through the
Local Chaos zine, referred to below somewhat loosely as a 'website'.]
HD: Alright, shall we climb aboard?
TS: Sure. Do I need to move up?
HD: Well, before we actually totter up and down, let me get the standard shot taken. [Ed. note: Photography ensues.] Listen, welcome to the teeter totter!
TS: Thank you! Thanks for having me.
HD: Happy Thanksgiving!
TS: Woah, I'm going to move back!
HD: [laugh] You need a little extra leverage? You feeling a little helpless there?
TS: No, I'm good. I thought about bringing my helmet, but I left it at home. [laugh]
HD: You mentioned just before we climbed on that you were cooking, you weren't watching the Detroit Lions game?
TS: That's right.
HD: But did you watch any television this morning? There was supposed to be a half-pipe in the parade ... ?
TS: Yeah, I watched, I tried to watch the parade, and just caught the end of the float in the Detroit Thanksgiving parade that had a half-pipe on it. Did you catch it?
HD: No, I kind of got up too late to enjoy the parade, I'm afraid.
TS: Some pro skater friends of ours from the Detroit area--Garold Vallie, is one of them, and he has a company called Nemesis Skateboards--he teamed together with Modern Skate--I don't know if you know Modern Skate, but they're in Novi, and Lansing, and Grand Rapids.
HD: And they built a half-pipe for the parade?
TS: Yeah, they built a half-pipe, looked like it was about six or seven feet tall, and pulled by a truck. And they were just rippin'--some skateboarders and some rollerbladers. It was cool.
HD: So the weather this morning was such that they could actually skate.
TS: Yeah, it seemed like it was cold enough so that whatever snow fell didn't stick and melt, so, yeah. Pretty interesting. It's nice to see skateboarding portrayed in a positive light in that way.
HD: Yeah, well, I don't think you can get much more mainstream then a float entry in a Thanksgiving Day parade.
TS: That's right! [laugh]
HD: You know, I was looking back over some old Talks, and it turns out that this is not the first Teeter Talk where a skatepark has been mentioned. Arrah and the Ferns, when they were here--they're a musical, well, they're a band is what they are--from Muncie, Indiana. One of them said that he had heard that there was a really good skatepark in my hometown, which is Columbus, Indiana.
TS: Hmmm, we haven't been to the one in Columbus, Indiana. We've been to Bloomington, which has a really nice park. And I know that Fort Wayne has a really nice park, too, but we haven't been to it. But the that's the thing--there are really nice concrete skateparks popping up just about everywhere, but we haven't been to that one. And when I say 'we', what I mean is me and my sort of crew of buddies that I hang out with. There are four or five of us, and we travel around and go to different skateparks. So, mostly when I say 'we', I mean 'I'. [laugh]
HD: [laugh] Okay!
TS: But when I think about skateboarding, I think about me and my buddies, not just me.
HD: Well, it's not just you who's on this Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee, right?
TS: That's right.
HD: I mean, it seems like you have a fairly broad-based group of people working on this.
TS: Yeah, and it's growing. I don't know, I could maybe give you a brief history of the group?
HD: Yeah, how long have you been at it?
TS: Well, in 2005 my buddy, Dug Song--who's not from Ann Arbor, but he's been around Ann Arbor for it seems like forever--he started up this Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee. He presented at the Parks Commission a plan to start ...
HD: ... this was back in 2005 that he first presented?
TS: This was in '05, yeah. Shortly after that, he had a baby. And so the skatepark thing kind of stalled. It didn't die, but it stalled.
HD: Okay, so he had other priorities in his life.
TS: Sometime after [Dug's] son was born, Steve Kunselman, who's been on Teeter Talk before, was elected to the City Council--I think it was after that, maybe during, I don't remember when--but Steve Kunselman is an old skater from Ann Arbor. He used to skate way back in the day ..
HD: ... as best I can tell from--there is this website called Chaos something-or-other?
TS: Local Chaos.
HD: Local Chaos, yeah. So from what I could gather from that website, you and Steve used to skate together? As kids?
TS: Ahhhmm, [laugh] he may be a few years older than me. [laugh]
TS: Being as gentle as possible! In my memory he was part of a little bit older crowd. And that was a crowd of skaters who taught me and some of my buddies to learn to skate. So, we skated together, but it wasn't like we were in the same sort of group. We were maybe a separate group, where we were maybe a little bit younger.
HD: So, you knew who he was, though.
TS: Yeah. And we saw each other at gatherings, parties, whatever. [laugh] And we knew a lot of the same people. Over the years before the skatepark thing happened, I'd see him downtown--I think he rode a long board sometimes, cruising around town. I'd be skating downtown and we would always talk a little bit of skating.
HD: Now when you say a 'longboard', how much longer than a regular skateboard is a 'longboard'?
TS: Well, there are so many different styles of skateboarding. The one that I rode down here on today, that one it is probably about 31 inches long. A longboard can be all the way--boy, they make them 40 inches to--I've seen six-foot-long longboards. And the longboard is more of the style for cruising around town.
HD: So, more skateboarding as transportation?
TS: Yeah. Transportation, or shootin' hills. The slalom boards, the guys who ride cones--we call them wiggle-boarders, because they kind of wiggle back-and-forth--those guys use a little bit longer boards, but those are more specialized. But yeah, the longboarders kind of more just cruise around, transportation, shootin' hills--more like the surfer style kind of down the street.
HD: So what does just a medium-range beginner's skateboard cost nowadays?
TS: A lot of the shops have--they call them blanks, a blank deck, because pro skateboarders, they put out their own model of skateboards, which are going to be a little bit more expensive--but you can get a shop board for 20 or 30 bucks.
TS: Yeah, and a decent board ..
HD: ... now did you say a shot board, are you saying a shop board?
TS: A shop board as in a skateboard shop. They buy blank boards and screen-print their names on them. Because a lot of the street skaters, they're breaking boards a lot. So, when you're 16 years old and you're breaking a board every month, the money starts to pile up. But that's just the deck, that's just the wood part.
HD: Yeah, I was gonna ask that, but I wasn't sure if it was a stupid question or not, but ... [laugh]
TS: ... no, no, no, no. And is great, because ...
HD: ... what you said sounded like almost it didn't come with wheels!
TS: This is really good, because what we have found when talking to the City, and talking to the public, and even talking to people who are part of our group, who are interested in getting a skatepark built, is when you say 'skatepark', or 'skateboarder', or 'skateboard', everyone gets different picture in their mind. So this good to kind of sort things out--sort some things out anyway.
HD: So there's boards and then, what, trucks?
TS: Yeah. And the trucks include the axle.
HD: And wheels are even separate from that?
TS: Wheels are separate, yeah. And bearings are separate from the wheels. [laugh]
HD: Is it not possible, and then, to walk in to a skate shop and say I would like--what's the right word to say--not 'board'?
TS: A complete setup.
HD: A complete setup, alright. What would a complete setup cost, you know, and just a mid-range price?
TS: Well, if you want to get something that's decent, you're going to spend 60 to 100 bucks. Probably closer to 80 to 100 bucks.
HD: So this is not crazy money, but also in not trivial.
TS: Right. And when your deck breaks, you still have the trucks and the wheels. It takes a long time to break the trucks--you really have to grind them down, or fly off of something really tall, which people to do! And the wheels, they wear down over time, but you're not often replacing the wheels.
HD: So, I kind of interrupted you. You were giving sort of a historical perspective on the Skatepark Action Committee.
TS: So, Dug has his baby, and things kind of slowed down. And back then, me and the buddies that I skate with--I wouldn't say we weren't interested in having a skatepark in Ann Arbor, but there were some newer skateparks around the area. Mason, Lansing, Charlotte, Bay City, have really nice concrete skateparks. We were skating those places and that was pretty much good enough for us. As time went on, and we were skating more and more--well, I'll just be straight up with you, I'm 40 and I'm kind of the youngest one of my group of skaters that I hang with. [laugh] Although Dug might be a couple of years younger. But we all skated back in the 80's and into the early- to mid-90's and then we kind of stopped for a while, the ramps disappeared, the skate spots disappeared, we weren't street skating as much, and so we kind of stopped. Really, what got us skating again was the skatepark in Mason, Michigan.
HD: Where is Mason?
TS: Mason is right on [U.S.-]127 about ten miles south of Lansing. So, Lansing has a nice skatepark, a concrete skatepark, and Mason does. And they're about ten, fifteen minutes apart, which is really nice, because you can skate two parks in one day. So, anyway. We had started skating again, and after a few years of skating hard again, with these amazing concrete bowls that weren't around in the 80's when we were skating here--there was one in Detroit called Endless Summer, but that got bulldozed in the early 80's. After a while, as we were skating more and more, we got sick of driving an hour to have to go skate. And started thinking more about how cool it would be to have a skatepark here. And with Steve Kunselman on the City Council, we kind of felt like that was a good thing. We knew that he was in favor of having a skatepark.
HD: I'd imagine he would be sympathetic to the general notion, right.
TS: And so, just this past spring, Dug and I started talking again and we really started to get this thing going again. And I think it was July when we had our first public skatepark meeting for the Ann Arbor Skatepark ...
HD: ... and then you presented to the Parks Advisory Commission in August?
TS: In August, mmm hmm. And that was pretty well received.
HD: Yeah, I read--they don't have an exact transcript, but it's a pretty much turn-by-turn summary of what was said. Some of the questions that they asked were, Well, gosh, how do you finance a skatepark?
HD: Which, I'd don't know, I guess I would hope that city staffers would provide the answers to those questions more than ask them.
TS: Some of the questions that they have, we feel that maybe not they have to answer the question themselves, but we need to work together to be able to answer the questions. Because really this is going to be a community project. It's going to be for the community and the City should be involved. You know, it's funny when people think about public skateparks, they think about it differently than soccer fields, or basketball courts, or tennis courts, or any of those things. They think about it completely different, like it something that's ...
HD: ... like it's a small special interest, as opposed to having a broad base of interest. So more in the spirit of, Should we build for you a skatepark? As opposed to, Should this community have this as an amenity for everyone to use?
TS: And part of that is--we're kind of jumping all over the place here--but part of the thing about skateboarding and why people don't understand skateboarding very much, I think, is that it's such an individual sport. My idea of what skateboarding is--and we're doing this interview and I'm telling you all these things about skateboarding like I'm some kind of specialist or expert--but the fact is, if you ask somebody else they might have completely different--well, maybe not completely different answers--but sort of a different feel of what skateboarding means to them. And that's what draws people to skateboarding, is that it is whatever you make it.
HD: But even though it's an individual sport like you say--I mean there's only one person on the board and whether you nail the trick or not is totally a function of your performance, your individual performance, still I mean ...
TS: ... unless your buddies are messing with you, which tends to happen sometimes! [laugh]
HD: Well, exactly. I mean, your buddies are going to be there, right? Because part of the point of being able to execute the trick individually is so that you can show someone else that you have done it, right? So there's a huge social dimension to it, this individual sport.
TS: And part of it is not only showing your buddies, but showing your buddies how you do it, because everyone has their own style. Like with me and my buddies, if six of us are skating, and we all do a front-side air, they're all going to look different. They're all going to be tweaked a little bit differently. Which is great, which makes it just so awesome, because it's--I hate to say it, but it's more comparable to figure skating than tennis or basketball or something like that. Because it's really subjective. You know, What is good? A 'good' trick, you know, what does that mean?
HD: Yeah, I'm just wondering if you will have to have to account to your buddies for comparing skateboarding to figure skating? [laugh]
TS: [laugh] I may have to! Especially if your headline is "Skateboarder Endorses Figure Skating", or whatever.
HD: Or how about "Skateboarding = Figure Skating!" [laugh]
TS: But you know how they judge figure skating--they have a panel of judges--and that's the way skateboarding contests are, too. They have a panel of judges and it's very subjective. Sometimes they have Highest Air contest or something like that ...
HD: ... where you can just measure. And I guess if you wipe out, then that's a failed trick, and there's some standard scoring mechanism you apply, but if somebody completes the trick then you have to assign a point on the scale, and it's subjective, okay.
TS: So back to the Parks Commission.
HD: So there's a meeting coming up that you're going to present at?
TS: Yeah, in December. And actually, just Tuesday I went and spoke at the Public Commentary for three minutes. We've been working with Christen Smith from the Parks Advisory Commission and Amy Kuras, who is a landscape architect. And they have been working really closely with us.
HD: Now, Amy is actually a City staffer though, right?
TS: Yeah, right. Yeah. And she actually lives right up the street, too!
HD: Oh, yeah? How 'bout that!
TS: On the other side of Slauson [Middle School], yeah. But when we first met with the Parks Commission, we met with the staffers first to sort of introduce the idea and get their feeling for it. It was really funny, because we prepared this big presentation, and had a DVD we were going to show, and we were all ready to convince the City that they should build a skatepark! And we went and started our presentation, and about thirty seconds into it Christen Smith stops and says, Well, wait, no, we want to build a skatepark! And so we were kind of like, Oh, what do we do now? So, the City is in support of it. The skatepark at Buhr Park was part of the Parks Commission's plan, and it was in the capital improvements plan.
HD: And when you say the 'skatepark at Buhr Park', you're not talking about the sort of temporary obstacles that they have set up around the ice rink.
TS: It's a very loose term. The 'skatepark at Buhr Park' is very loosely associated with actual skateboarding. I gotta hand it to the City for making an effort to set something up for kids to skate, which was great.
HD: But this doesn't really satisfy the description in the master plan for the parks to have a concrete skatepark?
TS: Their master plan doesn't say anything about concrete, or wooden ramps, or anything--it just says 'skatepark'. And working with the City, I'm trying to figure out how the whole plan works. The capital improvements plan has a stack of optional things that could be added into the plan. One of them is a skatepark. I think it's called the Skatepark/X- Games Facility or something.
HD: [laugh] [laugh]
TS: You know, who knows what that means. But that's why we're here, to try to figure out what that means.
HD: So the City has a document somewhere that has a title that includes the phrase X-Games!?
TS: Yes. And the budget for that was 70 thousand dollars. It was in the budget before, and it was withdrawn from the budget, and now it's sitting with some other plans. We're hoping to get the plan for a skatepark back into the City budget.
HD: So, 70 thousand bucks, that strikes me as pretty cheap for a concrete skate park. You couldn't build it for that cheap, could you?
TS: No, you couldn't.
HD: So, what would just a ballpark number be?
TS: Most of the parks in Michigan--they range from, I think, 11,000 square feet to 20,0000 square feet--they're right around 500,000 dollars.
HD: So, a half million bucks.
TS: And we're looking at 500 to 800 thousand dollars.
HD: So is the idea to actually go for like the premier skatepark in Southeast Michigan? Is that the goal, or is it pretty much just something adequate, not necessarily the very best, would be okay for now?
TS: It's hard to say at this point. We're getting towards the fund-raising and design stage at this point. If we wanted to go for the best, we would do something like what Louisville, Kentucky, did. They have a huge, massive complex that's outside and lit, and open 24 hours. They have a 24-foot-tall full-pipe, with 12-foot bowls on each and of it, a whole street area, a mellow sort of flow-way area with transitions, and then a vert ramp, too. It's massive, and it's kind of like what everyone shoots for.
HD: So that would be like the gold standard.
TS: We don't expect that to happen here. What we want is something that is functional for skateboarders and rollerbladers and rollerskaters. Something that will draw people from other areas. Because I know there are some kids in Saline who are trying to get a skatepark built. Dexter used to have a skatepark, and they don't anymore, and there are kids from there who have come to our meetings wanting an Ann Arbor skatepark built. Ypsi, Milan, the whole area will be using this. Something that will draw them in, something that has every level of abilities covered, from beginners who are just learning, all the way to expert, pro skateboarders.
HD: ... that is a sharp-looking parking structure!
TS: Yeah. And the potential for a really nice, beautiful skatepark--that's functional also--is just huge. And we're really excited about making it that.
HD: So do you have any idea of where you'd like to put it ideally?
TS: In our talks with the Parks Commission, it seems like there are a few possibilities. One is Southeast Area Park, which is Ellsworth [Road] and Platt [Road], out by the dog park, actually--the new dog park. So the dogs can have some place to play, and the skateboarders and rollerbladers can have some place to play, too! [laugh] But don't get me started on the dog park.
HD: Actually, I wanted to ask you about the skatepark in relation to the dog park. Because, you know, a dog park, executing on that, would seem like almost a trivial thing to accomplish for a community.
TS: But it wasn't.
HD: Right. Ten years in the making, and I'm not so sure that the facility they'll wind up with will be the kind of thing you can point to with pride. It sounds like it's going to be a big open field with a rectangle of chain link fence around at. And if you compare that kind of facility with the facilities in other communities that Ann Arbor likes to compare itself with, it doesn't really stack up.
TS: Well that's--let me put this nicely--we do want to put a certain amount of shame upon the City of Ann Arbor. Because almost everyone we talk to says, Why doesn't Ann Arbor have a skatepark? You know, Ann Arbor should have a skatepark! And the fact is, when you have towns in Michigan, population 9000, that have a really nice concrete skate park, it seems like Ann Arbor should have something like that. Now, when you get down to actually doing it, and finding the location, like we were talking about--the parks staff described to us a situation where a community garden wanted to go in, and the neighbors fought it. And fought it like, one of them said ...
HD: ... oh, I know something about this, they used the argument that, Gardens are ugly! We don't want to have to look at those ugly gardens!
TS: And someone said you would have thought we were trying to put in a NASCAR track, the way the neighbors reacted to it. You know, I'm from Ann Arbor, so I feel like I can talk a lot of trash about Ann Arbor, because I am a full-on Ann Arborite, I've been here forever, so anybody who is reading this, you know, don't take too much offense, because I'm from Ann Arbor, too! We think of ourselves as these really down-to-earth sort of ...
HD: ... open and liberal ...
TS: ... open, liberal-minded. But then when it comes down to it, a lot of us are pretty NIMBY. Which is a little disappointing, but.
HD: But this situation we were just talking about with the gardens, if you ask me, I think the root of that objection was in the fact that if you had a community garden there, then you would necessarily have people from outside the immediate neighborhood coming in to use the park. And I think there's a very proprietary attitude that people have towards parks. Not that they necessarily want to use that area for something else, not that they thought that the gardens were going to interfere with their use of the park, it's just that they didn't want somebody else using the park from outside the neighborhood. They want the parks to just be there, available. I mean, I have lived here ten years, so I didn't grow up here, so maybe I don't have as much room to criticize as you do ...
TS: ... oh, go for it!
HD: Okay, it seems to me that Ann Arborites' love of parks has mostly to do with having parks, as opposed to injecting activity into parks and really making parks a place where people do stuff, where people go, where maybe half the town heads over to a park on the other side of town to do something in that park. And, gosh, man, you might have to deal with people from all over Ann Arbor, not just the people from the three streets that are immediately adjacent to the park.
TS: Well, it is interesting, because you have a lot of parks that have really nothing in them. We have Water Works Park, which is kind of small. We've got West Park that has a couple--or one ball field?
HD: I think it's one ball field, and it's got basketball courts.
TS: And a little little playground.
HD: And the band shell.
TS: And then whoosshh that whole area. And is that Bandemer on top of the hill? No, Bandemer is--what's the one on top of the hill over there, up on Miner, is it Miner? Anyway, ...
HD: ... oh, where you're supposed to be able to see ... [Ed. note: It's Hunt Park that HD and TS are probably thinking of, although Miner is a couple of streets away from it.]
TS: ... you can see the skyline of the city from up there--I can't remember what it's called. But lots of these parks that have really nice open spaces to play in, but then you have Vets, which has mega ball diamonds, tennis courts, hockey and a pool, all in one place. And maybe that's by design, maybe the City wants to keep everybody in one place doing those activities, but there are ways to design skateparks, too, that they've done in other cities, where they have the main skatepark, a smaller skatepark and then in different neighborhoods skate spots, which are smaller areas with a ledge, and a hand rail or something. But again, when we initially mentioned that to the Parks Commission, well, the staffers, they brought up how hard it is to find a location for anything in a park. Which, if you're trying to do five, then ...
HD: .. so, the Southeast Area Park. The advantage there would be that it wouldn't be the only facility in the park. I mean, they got a couple of ball diamonds, they've got basketball courts there, they've got a soccer field as well, right? Plus there's the proximity, as you mentioned, to the eventual dog park.
TS: The dog park, and then kitty corner from there, there are soccer fields also at Lilly Park over there. I like the Southeast Area Park idea, too, because it's near Ypsi, Saline. It's in a part of Ann Arbor that's sort of the low-income side of town, where kids would have an easier time getting there from that area, on the bus line, ...
HD: .... I was going to say AATA, I think it's the No. 6 bus that goes right past there? There might be actually multiple bus lines that go down Ellsworth, I dunno. [Ed. note: HD scores one for the No. 6 bus going down Ellsworth. The No. 5 also serves that corridor.]
TS: So that's one possibility. Another possibility that was mentioned to us was Vets Park. But not where the old city ramp used to be--I don't know if you remember the city ramp? Did you ever see that half-pipe that was there? There used to be half-pipe at Vets.
HD: Has North Main Park been a part of any discussion at all? Do you know what I'm talking about?
TS: The municipal lot?
HD: No, there's actually a park called, I think, North Main Park.
TS: Oh, they just put a disc golf course in there, that one? Down by the river where they row?
HD: No, this is closer to downtown. I mean, it's actually very close to Wheeler Park--it's a very small sort of--I think maybe an urban planner would call it it 'pocket park', I don't want to mis-apply that term--but I don't know if there would be enough space. I think you would have to take the whole footprint of the park to make the skatepark, so it would be a stand-alone destination, but.
TS: We haven't talked about that one, but we have talked about the municipal lot, which is down on North Main--do you know what I'm talking about? Next to Natural Canvas, that little shopfront there. To the right of that there is a municipal lot that apparently is closing, that the City is going to do something with, whether the Greenway Task Force does something with it, or whatever. But anyway, that's a possibility, which would be a great location.
HD: Well, I think that will be the real test of whether there will be community support for it, once a tentative location can be decided. Because then you will see if there is really any opposition. I think people are very happy to agree to the idea that, Yeah, there ought to be a skatepark. Oh, but not there, oh, and also not there, oh, and not there, either.
TS: And it's a difficult thing. We're kind of caught in this little circle here, because what we hear from the Parks Commission staff, they want to talk about numbers of people who are in support of it. And they'd like to know where the money is going to come from before deciding on a location. But everyone we talk to says, You know, well, where is it going to be? You know, don't ask me if I support it until you know where it's going to be--including the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. Jennie Hale is, I think, Program Director [of AAACF]. She's on our steering committee. And someone from their youth council, Max Davis, is on our steering committee also. And the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is very supportive of this. It fits right in with what they do. They are willing to be our fiduciary, because that's what we need to be able to start fund-raising. We'll probably have to raise three-quarters of the money.
HD: You think so?
TS: Well, you know, according to the Parks Commission, there is no money.
HD: Well, yeah, I don't doubt that that's true.
TS: According to other people in the City government, there is, we just have to find it, and use it for this, rather than other things. I won't get too far into that! I don't want to speak for anybody else. [laugh] So there is hope, but, you know, the way we pay for this thing can be however the community wants it to be, and the government wants it to be. In some cities in Michigan, the City has paid for the complete park.
HD: Does that involve user fees, though?
HD: So the concept here would be that it would be an open park, you show up with your board, and you just skate.
TS: Yeah. And what that seems to do, is to take the liability from the City and put it on the user. When we've talked to people from other cities about the liability issue, it seems like with their liability insurance, if they have an attendant on duty, if someone doesn't wear their helmet and hits their head and gets a concussion, ...
HD: ... then it's the attendant's fault for not telling the kid to put his helmet on.
TS: Exactly. But the places we go to skate, they're free, they have rules posted, and there's usually a fence around it. It's open a certain amount of hours a day. You know, use at your own risk, kind of like of beach.
HD: So somebody comes by and locks it up at night?
HD: So, what's the next major event, meeting-wise? There's another PAC meeting sometime in December.
TS: The third Tuesday in December, were doing a formal presentation again for the PAC. And I was going to say, I just presented at the Public Commentary this past Tuesday, and it was interesting, because usually you go into a Parks Commission meeting, and you're the only one there, right? I walk in, and it's packed! And I look over to Jennie Hale, who was there, too, and I'm like, what is going on?!
HD: Oh, let me guess, was this the Huron Hills golf thing?
TS: Yes, it was the golfers!
TS: At first I was a little intimidated, but then I started listening to the speakers, because there were maybe 10 speakers signed up ahead of me. And everything they said about the golf course--it's a great recreation opportunity, kids can learn valuable life skills, and the community around it is involved in using the park, and blah blah blah, and all these things--you could substitute 'skateboarding' for 'golfing'. Except for the part where the guy was talking about his 91-year-old father, who still plays golf.
TS: I have run into some older skaters, but not in their 90's. [laugh]
HD: So have you talked to any of the golfing crowd to see if some sort of alliance could be formed?
TS: I have not talked to them. We didn't have time that night, but several of them walked by and said, Hey, good luck with that, you know. We're both looking to do the same thing. It's just a different sport. Or a different activity. A lot of skateboarders won't call skateboarding a sport. They don't think of it as a sport--some people don't think of golf as a sport! [laugh]
HD: [laugh] Well, neither one is included in the Olympics, right? There's no Olympics for golf, is there?
HD: I don't think.
TS: Probably not enough money in it. [laugh] No, I don't know, people are going to hate me after this interview, aren't they?
HD: I wouldn't worry too much. What I find is that people rarely read all the way to the end. Even though I tell them, Look, every word is precious. Every word of every Talk is precious and you need to read each one, and ponder it, and meditate upon it.
TS: I'll save some juicy stuff til the end.
HD: So, later today, you're going to go back home and have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, is that the plan?
TS: Well, wait, you had asked me about events that are coming up.
HD: Oh, right, I'm sorry!
TS: We are doing another formal presentation at the Parks Commission on the third Tuesday of December. And also, on December 7th and 8th, were having our first sort of accidental fund-raising event
TS: Yeah, sort of accidental. There's a group called the Brian Deneke foundation. Brian Deneke was kind of a punk rock kid in Texas, who was killed by another kid back in '97. They got in a fight in a parking lot or something and the kid ran over him with a car. And this guy who ran over him, all his buddies kind of laughed, and apparently nothing really happened to the kid who killed him.
HD: Jeez. There had better be some kind of happy end to this story.
TS: Well, what happened was this Brian Deneke Foundation was started, and it's now a nationwide foundation. Each state has its own affiliate, if you want to call it that, and every year they have a series of events to raise money for the Brian Deneke Foundation, which helps out parents of murdered children. So, 50 percent of the money goes to the Brian Deneke Foundation, and then they give the other 50 percent of the proceeds to community organizations in that community. The Neutral Zone will be benefiting from this, Ozone House, the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee, and two others I can't remember.
HD: So what's the nature of the event?
TS: It's two punk rock shows.
HD: Two punk rock shows! Who's playing?
TS: I know The State is playing at the Blind Pig one. Death in Custody, I believe, is another one.
HD: The first one that you mentioned is The State?
TS: The State, yeah. The State is--I think they describe themselves as Reagan-era hard core.
HD: So these are old guys?
TS: They are--yeah, they're old guys. Those are actually buddies of ours from way back in the day, who are still playing punk rock. They're great, they're a lot of fun.
HD: And what are the venues?
TS: The Friday night one is a place called Raw Haüs--it's a house where a bunch of guys live and they've got shows there, they put on shows in the living room. Not unlike Teeter Talk! Although a little louder, and with more people!
HD: The totter is actually very quiet today, which is good, it's not creaking.
TS: And then the Saturday night one is at the Blind Pig.
HD: Okay, so, right down the street from here.
TS: So, that's happening. On December 11th, we're having our next public meeting of the Skatepark Committee, which is going to be at Forsythe [Middle School] at five o'clock on Tuesday the 11th. What we're planning on doing for our future public meetings is have some sort of event--rather than just a meeting--like an all-ages show. A lot of skaters are in bands. When I was in high school, we all had bands, that was our major gathering place. If someone had a show at the Halfway Inn or Joe's Star Lounge or wherever.
HD: Joes' Star Lounge??
TS: Joes' Star Lounge, yeah. Joe Tiboni, I think he's a DJ on WEMU, and he used have a place called Joe's Star Lounge. You might want to interview him sometime--he's an Ann Arbor icon. Yeah, he would let us have all-ages shows during the day at the bar, so we would go and, all us punk rock kids would have a punk rock show. And then at night they would have the regular show with alcohol involved--I suppose, although I wouldn't know anything about that when I was in high school.
HD: Of course not.
TS: So, those are the things that we have coming up. Later today, I'm going to some friends' house in the Eberwhite neighborhood.
HD: So the cooking that you were doing is your contribution to a Thanksgiving meal?
HD: So, what did you make?
TS: Well, my girlfriend's a vegetarian. And, so I made everything vegetarian. She's been a vegetarian almost her whole life. I am almost vegetarian. But when I eat vegetarian food, I like to have fake meat ...
HD: ... you do??
TS: She doesn't dig the fake meat aspect of things.
HD: I don't appreciate stuff that's trying and failing to seem like meat that isn't.
TS: [laugh] We were talking about that this morning, because I made some gravy, vegetarian turkey gravy. There's this brand called Quorn, it's Q-U-O-R-N, ...
HD: ... I like the Q aspect!
TS: They make fake chicken and turkey meat out of some kind of fungus. And it's pretty good. It doesn't really taste like chicken, but I made this fake chicken gravy, with fake chicken powder, and she didn't even want to try it. And it's funny because some things you can make vegetarian that tastes like the meat version of it. Gravy is one, because gravy is made from all the scrapings and crap. Sausage, you can pretty much get some vegetarian sausage that'll pass as sausage--I've fooled some people with some vegetarian sausage. But when you get to better cuts of meat, yeah, it's not going to work. It's definitely not going to work. But any kind of meat that's crap meat, you can pretty much make taste like meat, vegetarian-style. That's what we discovered this morning. So got a fake turkey roll, made some fake turkey gravy, made some mashed potatoes ...
HD: ... out of real potatoes, or powdered?
TS: Real potatoes. Red-skin potatoes. We are using fake butter, though--we use the Smart Balance butter. We don't use real butter anymore, we're cutting down on the saturated fat.
HD: Well man, but real butter, there is no substitute for the taste of that, the taste of real butter.
TS: Well, I would love to eat real butter, but my gut doesn't really allow me to ...
HD: ... fair enough. You have to stay in some kind of skateboarding trim, right?
TS: Exactly. So later, we're going over to some friend's house, and it's going to be a great, relaxing evening. I'm a teacher, so we value these couple of days that we have.
HD: Yeah, so, no school tomorrow.
TS: I'm actually going skating tomorrow.
HD: Alright! Well, have a good state!
TS: Alright, well, thanks!
HD: What's the standard like skating lingo for that?
TS: Skate tough or go home? [laugh] I don't know!
HD: Well, listen, thanks for coming over on Thanksgiving to ride the teeter totter.
TS: Well, thanks, thanks for having me!