Oakland DIY Spot Gets Bulldozed

A news channel covers the dramatic last runs at a spot which was clearly a positive usage of a forsaken area. Oakland's other great DIY spot, Bordertown, is slated next.

Check out this article from our November 2010 issue:

Click image to enlarge.

The Life and Looming Death of a Skate-Slab

Photos: Ken Nagahara | Words: Adam Creagan

Few things extinguish the stoke more than a slab spot’s death by bulldozer, or by jack-hammer if your Project Scumway never got beyond a jersey barrier. There are quite a few terrain options these days, of course, but the over-regulated parks have a daycare-center vibe and the ones with nine-foot fences feel like a prison. Yearning to breathe free, there will be those who deposit vigilante ’crete into exciting formations at interesting locations. The “pour-your-own and face the consequences” storyline has a few Burnside-style triumphs, but more often it ends in whiny tales about fighting City Hall and losing.

In Oakland, CA, under a canopy of highway overpasses, in a bleak corner of the city where the only thing going on is urban decay, a group of motivated individuals found a creative use for a desolate slab of asphalt. So, that’s the beginning of the story. And, unfortunately, you already know the ending: instead of a “Skate at your own risk” city-declaration, the spot is slated for a Caterpillar annihilation. Maybe. The mounds still stand for now and, who knows, Too $hort could ride in to the rescue.  

Now for the kinda-flimsy philosophical part: If the spot does get KO’d, a self-sustaining open-air community center, devoted to physical and mental health, craftsmanship and urban renewal, will revert back to its original state—a lifeless, soul-killing magnet (how do they work?) for garbage and hobo excrement.

Every beginning and end needs a middle, though...

During one visit to the spot, a tech game of SKATE was going down. A nearby older dude remarked to his even-older friend, “It looks like they’re playing hacky-sack.” His tone wasn’t hostile, he just seemed perplexed that these guys were wildly flipping their boards in a small area when there were so many unique obstacles around. When the game wrapped up, however, these same flatground wizards launched a barrier-cult assault which included blunts, backside tailslides, and a kickflip pivot, all on the same wicked-tight transition the older guys could barely muscle a grind on. In fact, one of the senior gents got Tom Broke-off on a squirrely-ass rock fakie attempt.

That anecdote is not a Barney cheap-shot, though. Actually, if you can find a point to the story, let us know. But maybe it has something to do with how these slab spots, including the short-lived ones, are an important part of skating for reasons that are both obvious and also hard to describe.

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