Alex and I connected the way Wes and I did. As Wes left skating and challenged himself with music(Phenomenal drummer and guitarist, though he won’t lay claim to either), Alex and I started skating every weekend. We would skate downtown Alexandria, sometimes take the metro to downtown DC, golden triangle stop, roll right up to Pulaski. Alex is a year younger, and at the age, with a slightly more strict and religious upbringing than I had, we would have to sneak downtown DC at first, it was a short bus ride to downtown Alexandria from his house, an on campus teacher housing area of the large and prestigious boarding school his mother and stepfather taught for. He was from a large family, five other bothers and sisters.
I was sixteen when I first met Alex, however, driving a minivan covered from hood to trunk, inside and out, in skateboard stickers, having shaggy hair I buzzed off once or twice a year and hardly ever shaving, I was pulled over a lot, more than half the time, not for any real reason, “You didn’t stop at the stop sign.”
“Uuuuh, yeah, I did.”
“You really gonna lie to a cop?!”
They either wanted to search the car or give me tickets for going ten or fifteen miles per hour more than I was actually going, don’t get me wrong, sometimes, I would be going forty-five on a thirty-five, end up getting ticket for fifty-five, reckless driving, points added to my license. I lost my license due to points, for three months, six months and then a year, strictly because how I wanted to express myself and who I believed I was, made me a target. I remember getting my license and my parents telling me to take the stickers off for that very reason, when I told them, “But police can’t be prejudice, that’s illegal, we can just fight any phony charge.” they laughed, they laughed hard and said it was my choice to learn the hard way or not, law does not matter in this world, especially within authority. So I learned the hard way, I didn’t even realize being coerced into having your car searched wasn’t part of a standard traffic stop until I was about nineteen and pulled over as a passenger in my girlfriend at the time’s car, who had no nerves about the situation at all, mind. blown.
Not having my license for various periods wasn’t bad. Alex and I could catch the bus from his house to downtown Alexandria, sometimes hopping on the metro to DC, sometimes we never went out of sight from the school’s property. He had a large strip mall across the street from the school, along the paved backside were two metal edged ledges, a three stair, four stair and post office loading dock. A grocery store on the other side of the street had long yellow painted curbs(the east coast equivalent of red curbs in Cali), a ramping sidewalk that you could launch into the loading dock from and a lot of tall and round flatbars, if we wanted to hippie jump, or felt adventurous with grinds and ollies.
It didn’t take long for Alex’s mother to be comfortable with us going to downtown DC, either by the metro or car, and during the short periods I had my license, it was easier for us.
Before we knew it, we were downtown at Pulaski every night. Searching and tracking downtown spots, known and unknown. I remember it started in the Fall, we swiftly drove into the city staring at the DC traffic piled up like a parking lot heading out to the suburbs. The sun set early. We would skate alone for hours until Paul McElroy would get off work and roll up. Maybe after about a week he rolled up for the third or fourth time, “Hey, so you guys are just here every night?” We awkwardly chuckled, “Yeah, until it snows and we can’t for a few days.” We would chat with Paul, filmed a nollie nose manual across the main ledge that he always wanted to get on footage of. When Spring rolled around and everybody else started showing up, Alex and I were called out, “Who are the new kooks here everyday?”
“The hell are these guys?” And some less dramatic, “Anybody know these guys?” Quickly Paul spoke up as Alex heard, “They’re the guys who were holding down Pulaski all winter while you were staying inside.” Of course we were accepted after that, but begrudgingly accepted, we were accepted by others being called out by our presence.
We continued as the outsiders, deemed the tag-a-longs whenever the heads left Pulaski and we were invited to follow, usually by Paul or Zach Lyons. Most of the heads followed the filmers, especially the younger sponsored ones. We didn’t care, we were just skating with the group, most of the time they dispersed after a few spots, we would stick with the two or three still trying to move onto the same spot or just head out on our own, we headed out on our own most of the time, I believe due to my anti-social nature and undeveloped social skills. I even remember Alex pulling me a few feet back from the group one time to mutter, “Dude, you have to talk to somebody, even just say something to me. They’re calling you out for being quiet when you go for your trick.”
I didn’t really care, neither did Alex, but our attitude and my extreme (lack) of behavior definitely kept us on the outside. As we quickly learned, ego and politics poisoned the local DC skate scene as much as anywhere else, especially for the time. Of course there were exceptions, of course there were great people, but the ones causing the drama, most likely unaware of their own actions, hid their high school cafeteria antics from those who matter, to sum it up, in my early twenties, a great example of this is, Mike Goldman, one of the rawest and most epic of east coast skaters and filmers ever(no joke, on par with Wolfe) was lamed out of the game when it got to the point that another filmer-now working in the industry-told Goldman he wasn’t allowed to film a sponsored skater anymore because, “he’s mine!” Goldman only put out two videos(I believe), PG Unit and One Night Stand. Both videos, and their delivery, encompassing everything that skateboarding is.
Goldman saw things within the east coast that other people looked over, he would find a block or a street and make a comment along the lines of, “I want to go to this spot and film a line, I don’t care if it’s all ollies, just, a skateboarder needs to roll down this block, one day or another and it needs to be captured.” But Goldman is for a different post at a different time.
In High School Alex and I were heading downtown every single day. We started tagging along on family vacations with each other. Watching late night antenna access TV together through instant messenger, just brothers to give an obvious definition. We always saw eye to eye on everything, had the same weird and kook-like behavior and humor as black sheep. We’d laugh for years until we cried over the same jokes while constantly coming up with new ones and having stacks of hilarious experiences together.