Saturday, March 26, 2005

Signs of spring.

Spring is breaking here in the Midwest, and I took some time today to search out one of the signs of the end of the long winter.

I went in search of The First Skateboarders Of Spring.

Skateboarders - those tough motherfuckers - are a sure sign that spring is around the corner. Like the crocus, they often appear even before the snow is melted and seem to thrive in harsh conditions.

I started my search in the suburb of Royal Oak, which is known for it's youth and vibrancy. I once met a man on a train who recommended Tom's Oyster Bar for a good meal in the area and since I had an hour or so to kill, I sought it out. I found the bar and ordered the crawfish bisque and a black and tan. I never thought to put crawfish in a bisque, but there you go. It was very good. The waitress didn't know where I should go to find the First Skateboarders Of Spring and additionally seemed entirely uninterested in my quest. Nonetheless, I pressed on.

I started walking and looked for the empty lots and waxed curbs that usually indicate Skateboarding activities and came upon a threatening group of five punks. They were friendly and would have made a great photo, with their mile high mohawks, leather, plaid and chains. However, I wasn't looking for punks. I was looking for the elusive and timid First Skateboarders Of Spring.

Near a promising alley, I was approached by a bum in a dirty snowsuit and a white cane. Normally I don't supply money for bums, but he asked nicely and I had already had my beer - why shouldn't he have his? He asked to walk with me, but I told him no, unless he knew where the Skateboarders were. He didn't.

It was approaching dusk when I came to a public park with a large concrete fountain. I listened for the telltale CLACK CLACK sound of skateboarders but all was quiet. There was no wax on the curb, however, there was a "No Skateboarding" sign. A sign such as this is a clear indication of a Skateboarding Watering Hole so I sat on a bench and waited.

It wasn't long before I saw a small group of three Skateboarders defiantly carrying their boards not 25 feet away. I immediately got up and followed them to the concrete steps of a government building.

I pushed my chocolate brown fedora down over my eyes and lifted my chin to peer at them from the bottom of the concrete steps. I raised my hand open-palmed in a non-threatening gesture and said "Hello there! May I take your photo?"

They stopped and looked at me. "What?"

"I'm looking for the First Skateboarders Of Spring. Do you mind if I take your photo?" I asked.

"Um. Sure. Whatever." The one who seemed to be the leader said. "Do you want us to smile...or what."

(often skateboarders will hiss and feign apathy and distain as defense mechanisms, but do not be deterred! in my experience, just under the surface you will find a wholly sensitive and enjoyable group of people.)

I raised my camera, "How about if you...look intimidating." They laughed. They spoke of the mild weather and of looking for a good place to Skate. After I took their picture, I thanked them for their cooperation and asked if I could follow them to the fountain.

"I guess so. But we pretty much't expect a whole lot." (cynicism and modesty – additional natural defenses.)

At the fountain I sat at a distance and took a few photos, but it was getting too dark for pictures and I knew I was unwelcome as Skateboarders are often a solitary people. I thanked them again and walked back to my car deeply satisfied that spring is on its way.

The First Skateboarders Of Spring


Blogger Seanachie said...

I think in my neighbourhood, I was the First Skateboarder of Spring - or one of them. Nobody took my picture though. (Though I did get yelled at by a Security Guard.)

Now I'm waiting patiently for the first Pub Patio Day of Spring. It will be a happy day, and one filled with much beer.

1:54 PM  
Blogger cl said...

Lawrence! Kansas! We're crawling with 'em!


11:36 PM  
Blogger Noir Muse said...

Trite – Pub Patio Day Of Spring – that will be a fine day indeed. Now that’s a day that should be made into a national holiday.

cl – I forgot that you have an overpopulation of Skaters in your area – and making movies of themselves no less…where they seem rather rare in Michigan. Perhaps we should start a “capture and release” program to correct the population density over your way.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Latigo Flint said...

Ahh, the elusive and timid spring skateboarder. Well done to you I say, for capturing them on film.

(I tried to make my fingers type the above with a deep, rich English accent, Sir Richard Attenborough-ish, but I don't think they quite managed.)

11:22 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

YEAH. hats off to you, *'mate'. you've braved desolate avenues and were accosted (?- were you? let's pretend then) by hostile distractors...
and were swayed not from your path..
youre a photographer or...?

*- attemp to incorporate foreign slang/terminology(?- or Am i?)

11:41 PM  
Blogger Noir Muse said...

Mr. Latigo - I totally heard it, bro.

Lea - I'm a photographer about as much as I'm a surgeon. Sometimes I take pictures and then sometimes I remove splinters.

8:40 PM  
Blogger becky said...

you have this whole 'nother life that I know nothing of...
May I come along on your next pagan quest?

8:38 PM  

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