Even writing about a few days ago seems like another lifetime, shifts in mood, the environment, reflecting on the past anticipation of events that have already transpired. But I’ll try. While I close my eyes I can still see the impression of the after image. I can still recall the faint odor off the canals as we weaved our way through narrow lanes and bumped our luggage over the stepped footbridges, hurrying towards Ferrovia station to make the New Year’s day train departure back to Milan.
So, let’s get back to Tuesday early afternoon; Y and the little one had gone off on their own adventure and I took the opportunity to hang around the apartment for a bit and write about the previous few days. Knowing there was no currently operating skate shop in Venice, I charted my course for the mainland in Mestre where I had good information on a skate shop and a promising skate spot nearby.
Relying simply on your sense of direction is of no help in Venice. The city is a cluster of islands and districts with the Canal Grande cutting through the middle like a yin yang in plan view. Instead of streets, there are small canals everywhere and the walkways all project at slightly different angles creating dead ends and open squares and polygons of numerous configurations. Regardless, the major points of interest are noted at key intersections so if you had to wing it you’ll eventually end up where you want. Just remember to factor in that as opposed to a perfectly executed series of turns from point A to point B, this brute force approach may yield a path twice the length from detours and doubling back.
Found my way to the bus terminal at Piazalle de la Roma, and boarded a bus heading across the single bridge connecting Venice to the mainland. Following the directions I received from Michele back at the apartment, I got off at the end of a main avenue in Mestre and quickly located Green Records and Boards, though it turned out the shop didn’t open until 3:30pm. Since it was about 3pm, and it generally started getting dark around 4:30pm, I decided to use the remaining daylight to skate over to the nearby spot.
The sidewalk was deserted so I started pushing on my board to speed up the travel. Although the paving brick had a smooth surface, the large gaps in between made me appreciate the 56mm wheels I had put on in advance of the trip. Stopped at a local cafe on the way there, and joined a group of three men at the counter, one with a glass of wine, the other two with small cups of espresso, ordered myself an espresso and briefly enjoyed the atmosphere before heading back out. The sidewalk turned into a bike lane which sped up the pace of my pushes and then turning down a side street I opted to push down the smooth street. Pretty quick skate but the therapeutic quality of this familiar rhythm is worth mentioning. When walking it is easy to get lost in thought but every push on a skateboard creates a stillness of concentration that enhances the senses of observation.
After a few blocks, the public park I was looking for appeared. No immediate sign of the skate spot, so I entered the park and upon stepping up over a small ridge, a large brick formation revealed itself. That initial feeling of joy came over me that any skater can relate to when seeing a beautiful skate spot for the first time. Perhaps the same feeling occurs to the devout worshiper upon entering a sacred basilica or temple. This transcendence, catching the vibes, getting stoked, whatever you will, my entire perspective shifted and the past few days of false starts melted away and I found myself completely in the moment.
Imagine a great brick pyramid, cut the top off and then flip it upside down so that you could skate the inside. Three sided, with large mellow brick banks and plenty of room on the top level to roll in. This formation was placed in the center of a landscaped park with other interesting architectural elements that seemed both ancient and modern at the same time, covered in graffiti. Again, very glad to have the larger wheels because the bricks were of the rough variety, reminiscent of Government Center in Boston. This may be coming from an East Coast attitude, but I actually enjoyed the roughness of the brick; the added challenge gave the spot some extra character. Took some runs around the spot rolling in at various angles and carving from one bank to the other.
A local skater came over to see what I was up to and we talked for a bit. His name was Benito and he was 15. He started skating a year ago, same age as when I started so that was cool, though for me that was 20 years ago. Pretty warmed up by this point, I asked if he could film me using my phone. My plan was to do a trick into one bank from above and then use the speed to do another trick up the next side of the bank. Surprisingly, on the first attempt I got a nollie backside 180 into the bank, rolled down switch stance pretty fast and held on but couldn’t get my feet position in place to pop fakie on the next bank. Changed the plan to start with a simpler frontside 180 so my foot position wouldn’t have to change much. After a few attempts I made the line I had wanted. Frontside 180 into the first bank, fakie flip to regular on the second bank with just enough rotation to point me towards the third bank for a frontside boneless for good measure.
Checked the footage, a bit sloppy on my part, and probably should have gone long lens instead of using the fish eye, but whatever, it was good enough for my purposes as a video souvenir of the spot and I wasn’t really up to wearing out my welcome for repeated efforts to get a higher quality clip. Benito headed to the store and I skated over to the other spot I had heard of in this park. This was an open plaza with a small pebble surface that didn’t interfere too much with skating but did hurt pretty bad when I threw down a palm to break a fall. The main attraction here is a 4 by 4 grid of manual pads with about a two foot gap in between each making it seem a natural spot for trick and manual combos. The sides of some of the pads had various amount of wax and wear and tear for added potential. I met Benito’s twin brother here who also skated. Besides these two skaters, the rest of plaza seemed a popular hang out for teenagers, most just hanging out but some others on bikes, even a group practicing juggling. Seemed like a pretty rad spot but after seshing for a bit with the twins the sun started going down so I said good bye and headed back to the skate shop.
Greens Records and Boards is located in a small shopping plaza in Mestre. There’s a smooth covered walkway in front and a bench that looked well utilized as a grind box. Inside, the shop was clean and well organized. Judging by the selection and displays the shop seemed to cater both to dedicated skaters and the cultural enthusiasts. The owner Giulio was there and we talked for a bit about the local scene, their local brand, Murder Skateboarding, and how the shop has been in business for 20 years, an amazing accomplishment in the skate industry. Really nice dude. Even slapped a SKATEYOGI sticker on the quarter pipe they keep in the shop after I had given him some for the shop.
Spirits high after a successful skate mission, I returned to Venice, grabbed a bottle of Italian beer and returned to our apartment just as Y had finished preparing a feast of clams, mussels and veggies we had bought at the Rialto Market that morning. Michele, the roommate was there too so I was happy to tell him that his advice had paid off. We drank some beers, shared some conversation and I then began looking forward to the prospect of more skateboarding in Venice.