Skateboarding, PTSD, and Skateparks

This year marks the 50th year of my existence in the cosmos. Back when I was twelve, sometime around 1975 or 1976, I saw these kids riding these plastic things with wheels on them and like riding a wheelie and it just blew my mind. I was compulsed! I had to have one of these things, and these dudes tell me that it is a skateboard. I just broke my father's shoes until he caved, and he went out to Danny's Ride Away in Levittown, NY with me and got me a big ol' blue plastic Bigfoot skateboard, and over time I even upgraded it with PowerPaws wheels. These are the wheels that had loose ball bearings, maybe about a year before the RoadRider wheels came out.

My father took me and my friends out to a movie called

, and I guess we where either in 5th or 6th grade. My dad also took to me my first and only to this day Pro Level contest which we saw at the Nassau Colisuem and Russ Howell was there killing it.

Then I guess sometime later that year I was actually in a contest at Eisenhower Park, I didn't win anything, just some schwag. But it was so fun man. Then we I saw the first three issues of Skateboarder magazine, especially the Greg Weaver cover man,

that was it. I was gone. Now, in 2014 we have Juice magazine, which is a massively good read.

In between certain slices of my personal history that were laden with depression and anxiety, somehow skateboarding would raise me up and ground me to some sort of even keel. Spread the Stoke! Damn, if this isn't true. So I have seen and lived through all these decades being down with skateboarding and it's culture. I'm no name dropper, never had a ramp, never a shop, and to be honest I'm not any good. But who gives a fuck? It's about fun! It's about individuality, it's about release, it's about passion and pushing yourself.

I had not been skating in a very long time it seemed in 2007, and so I decided to pick up a Gravity 46 Carve longboard, and that quickly became kind of an obsession. But I was more into it, for the sake of just cruising, and using it for pushing and traveling around. But then one day I went to the skateplex here in Longbranch, NJ and I had always been intimidated by street skaters, and I was also very freaked out about being this old dude at the park blah blah blah.

But one day, I lurked and went in the park and saw the "Bowl" and that was it man. I immediately left and picked up a regular skateboard for skating the "Bowl". So I started slowly over time this year, going over to the park more and more. I like to go when it is not crowded. But even when it is, I have personally never witnessed any drama so as far as the overall people scene is here, it is relatively on the positive tip, which is a good thing.

One thing that is funny though, is that I found myself picking lines and messing around more in the street course. Then one day I started really getting into getting back into the mini ramp. I tried again to drop in, but I hesitated and slammed pretty hard. So, hard that I just kind of blew it off, and hey look I'm 50 man!

But I keep going back to the park and now I hit coping on the ramp and almost in the Bowl. But I still have not dropped in. It's so lame, because it is totally mental in many aspects of it. The sad part is, I have been through this before, and so it's not like I don't get it. Fear sucks man.

Then I found out that we have a new skate shop in our neighborhood. Nephews, you should check it out. Brian the owner, is good people. Over the course of the next few month I was also skating through my last year of school at Rutgers. Now the quiver has grown.

One day during my morning web surf and espresso ritual, I came across this fascinating article written about the correlation between Veterans and Skateparks, and their social value therapeutically for Veterans that are suffering from PTSD.

As the url states it is a guest editorial, but I wanted to find out more about the person who wrote such a fantastic and practical article.

Evan Knappenberger is a righteous and heavy dude, and personally I am drawn by his writing and what I can glean from the intertubes about him as a person.

Then we also have Neal Unger who published Dude Logic and is a Old Man as well. One day I am going chill with Neal. No doubt.

When I was living in Italy in the late 80s/early 90s, some of my best friendships and relationships were borne out of skateboarding and parks/ramps.

There are a few other people that totally stoked me so bad in the last two years regarding skateboarding. Jeff Grosso's Love Letters. The Xavier II ladies.

Then there is the Vans Pass the Bucket video with Jim Murphy and Jeff Ament,

this was so awesome, it made me cry. Finally, we have 88 hours of anarchy.

So... in essence... Just to cut to the chase, over the past year and a half or so life has gotten pretty heavy to put it very superficially. I am a military veteran 22 years, DX'ed with PTSD/GAD. There were days when the fake smile mask that you wear every day just was not cutting it any more, I personally could not masq the overwhelming pain, distress, anxiety etc.

Skateboarding and specifically local skateparks have had an immense positive impact on my spiritual and mental well being.

I love all forms and disciplines of skateboarding, and I am very interested in Do-It-Yourself skate spots and parks. Just as I am a staunch advocate for more ladies and girls in STEM, Skateboarding, Longboarding and other more male dominated subcultures. It's just such a positive thing to spread the stoke to everybody. So I guess my main four skating goals are to learn how to ollie, dropin, do some serious downhill, and do over 20 miles in long distance pumping

In July unfortunately I was just coming down to the tail end of a really good epic longboarding session in my neighborhood when a lady hit me with her car. It's was really intese and I bounced, rolled and scraped on the good old pavement. It all happened so quickly but at the same time it was in slow motion. I immediately got up and was like totally triggered and in shock. But what was more crazy, was that I was so mad and angry! So, I just grabbed all my stuff and kept skating for another two miles. My right wrist was all mangled and bloody, and it turned out that my wrist was broken. So, needless to say, this was really traumatic and shocking and kind of set the tone for the rest of the summer.

But slowly I have been getting back out and meandering about the town, mainly on my road bike. When I skate I am usually in a park, so I don't stress about getting fucking hit by a asshat in a four wheeled coffin.

I guess the only two other observations I would like to make is that we concrete disciples should not get all caught up in the little meta cultures underneath this umbrella culture of skateboarding as a whole. Longboarding, Skateboarding, Penny Skates, whatever its all good. It's all stoke man. The Old Many Army, the must mentor and lead the Groms. The Groms should be respectful and protective of the Old Man (and Old Lady) Army. It's all about having one love and respect. I mean that.

I think at both the federal and state level we should encourage policy makers and city planners in urban and rural areas, to promote a much more fruitful and resilient public skatepark program throughout the United States.

Be Well My Friends Keep It Simple Keep it Authentic