Independent's "Gotta Pray to Play" Article

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On our first day in Pittsburgh we were skating a bump to bar in a church parking lot. We were there for about half an hour when the pastor pulled into the lot and asked us to leave. We asked the standard question, “Can we just get 15 more minutes?” “No,” he said, “this is private property and you are causing damage to the rail.” We tried to persuade him but he stuck to his guns. As we were heading to the van, he suddenly said, “Wait a minute. I have a proposal for you guys. I’ll let you skate if you all come inside and pray for ten minutes.” Nobody really knew what to say. 
He continued, “Last night one of our parishioners and her two children were killed in a car wreck. I would love to have you pray for the family.”

Indy Pray Photo2 750pxNo prayers required for Milton’s nosegrind at this chapel

Indy Pray Photo3 750pxPedro Delfino, off the top rope, over the bars and down the shoot—blessed boneless one

Indy Pray Photo4 750pxMilton muscles through a curved, kinked boardslide in da ’Burgh

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As soon as we heard the tragic story we all agreed and followed him into the church and recited a prayer with him. Afterwards, he came outside with us and Wes got his trick while under his approving eyes. I’d like to think his blessing carried over to the rest of the trip, ’cause this one was about as good as they get.

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Indy Pray Photo8 750px 2xThe whole crew prayed to skate this spot. Wes, ollie late shove it for the Skate Gods

Indy Pray Photo9 750pxMarius taking advantage of one of Xeno’s crusty spots—pole jam into the bank

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Evan Smith and I talked about getting a crew together and hitting Pittsburgh and then working our way up to Detroit. That’s how this whole trip planning got started. Since Evan lives in Pittsburgh and has the place dialed, it made a lot of sense. But as the plans started to tighten up, he let me know that he was having ankle surgery and wouldn’t be able to skate. I told him, “I’ll take the crew somewhere else in the US and hit Pittsburgh when you’re healed up.” His response was, “Fuck that! I’ll hop in the van with my crutches and show you a good time!” And that’s exactly what he did. He was there to greet us straight off the plane and he held it down through the Motor City. Some skaters make up excuses not to go on trips. Evan is the exact opposite. You don’t become a KOTR MVP by accident. Dude’s legendary.

Indy Pray Photo10 750pxEvan assists and Dolan gets shacked. Totally tubular, dudes!

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How hyped were you to see Slayer for the first time?
I was hyped! It was the best way to end a sick skate trip.

Describe the ride to the Slayer show?
Slayer cranked to 11. T-Funk was hammered and puked out of the van window AS we pulled into the parking lot. It was on. We were all just fired up to see the show. 

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So what happened when Slayer came on?
I thought we were all going into the pit, but I think it was just me. I got pushed by some big-ass dude and tried to catch myself and fucked my ankle up. I thought the ground was going to be slippery with beer and sweat but it wasn’t.

Do you remember how many songs in it was?
I think it was the third song, “Mandatory Suicide.”

Then what did 
you do?
I tried asking this dude for help and he just looked at me and blew me off. So I jumped the guard rail and hopped up some more stairs ’til I made it out and someone got me a wheelchair. They took me up front and I sent you a text to come get me.


Yeah, I came out and got the van and took you to the hospital.

Luckily there wasn’t anyone in the emergency room. They took me in really quick.

I asked them how long and they said a least an hour, so I drove back and caught the last three songs of their set. So what happened to your ankle?
I rolled it really bad and got a hairline fracture in my fibula.

Any suggestions to surviving the pit at a Slayer show?
Don’t go in the pit if you under 150lbs! Don’t ask anyone for help. It’s a straight war pit; you just have to try and survive.

Would you go see them again?
Oh, hell yeah! Might bring some ankle braces next time, though.

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Dolan wallie DZ 750pxIf you’re under 150 pounds stay outta the pit, but being light helps with wallies. Dolan breathes some new life into an old spot

Indy Pray Photo13 750pxPedro survives the harsh Pittsburgh ’crete with an eggplant above the cheese-grater finish

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T Funk corner air DZ 750pxBig wheels and bigger pits, T-Funk clears a crusty corner

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It’s always a pleasure to escape the Southern California skate scene and check out other regions in the US. Don’t get me wrong, CA has a lot to offer, but skaters in the Midwest work for it—from building their own spots to making their own scenes and constantly dealing with the elements, nothing is given freely. To me, Pittsburgh is a breath of fresh air. Meeting and skating with locals who are actually hyped you planned a trip to their city is awesome. Evan’s been holding it down on the eastern side of Pennsylvania in an area known as the City of Bridges. There’s 446 of them to be exact—all steel, no bullshit aluminum handrails, just the good stuff! Jake Johnson used to live in this neck of the woods, too. We got the royal treatment, hitting all the best stuff to skate—from parks to a virgin community pool to DIY slabs to hill bombs and street spots for days—it was never ending.

Indy Pray Photo15 750pxThat wooden door looks pretty haggard but Wes’ gap to nosegrind is as fresh as they get

Indy Pray Photo16 750pxJake Johnson switch pole jams a little hole in the wall in Detroit

Indy Pray Photo17 750pxKnobs? Kinks? Tristan don’t give a FUNK! Boardslide to close out a line

Wes nosepick DZ 750pxBackside nosepick on the tall wall, SOTYs skate everything. Just ask Wes

Indy Pray Photo18 750pxMilton hopped off the rails long enough to reel in this whopper of a kickflip

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The icing on the cake was when Xeno, local photographer and friend of the mag, hopped in the van and took us on a tour of crusty spots around the city that only a Yinzer would know. Not to blow out Evan’s zone, but rumor has it Pittsburgh is a really cheap city to live in and real estate is beyond reasonable. We rolled through when the weather was nice, though. Maybe you have to spend a winter there to see what they really deal with. Either way, Pittsburgh goes!

Pedro fs invert DZ 750pxRent’s cheap in the ‘Burgh but you still gotta pay for your frontside inverts. Delfino digs deep and cashes in

Indy Pray Photo19 750pxCleveland is the rock ‘n’ roll capitol of the world but T-Funk was feeling the 5-0 drop instead

Indy Pray Photo20 750pxPedro, over-the-back 50-50 while the boys hit some grass

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Continuing with the Slayer theme, we got bagels every single morning because they’re fast—you don’t have to waste time at a sit-down spot. We were also cranking Slayer in the van the whole trip and early on “Angel of Death” became “Bagel of Death.” Eleven days, 11 dudes and 11 bagels a day—you do the math. That’s 121 Bagels of Death! I had mine with Seasonings in the Abyss.

Indy Pray Photo22 750pxWes unlocked a real-life level in THPS—switch bluntslide into the bank

Dolan Hippy jump DZ 3 750pxHe ain’t no hippie! He listens to Slayer! Dolan, hesher hop

Indy Pray Photo24 750pxPedro testing the air quality above Ann Arbor, Michigan

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The first day of the trip I made a post on Instagram: “Indy Tour in Pittsburgh just started. DM us for spots.” Most suggestions were nonsense, but @thommygunzz sent a photo of a gap to rail along with the address. He also wrote that he had $50 for a gap to noseblunt on it. Milton didn’t give a shit about the cash; he just wanted to get the trick. Four or five tries in and he was rolling away from it. I sent @thommygunzz a DM and 15 minutes later he pulled up, peeped the footage and handed Milton the money. Gotta love the ‘gram!


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In a sense, Detroit feels like the opposite of Pittsburgh. It’s more like the Wild West: rundown, abandoned buildings, a shrinking police force and a tough town. Which means it’s perfect for skateboarders. Some of our crew had been there, some hadn’t, but after six days in Pittsburgh it was time for a change of scenery. One of the first spots we hit was a DIY bank on the side of a road. With our crew plus the locals showing us around we had about 20 people in tow. The spot needed some Bondo, so we were patching it up with everyone skating in the street, drinking beers, hanging out. Out of nowhere, a police cruiser is barreling down the street straight towards us. We all stopped doing what we were doing as the police car drove past us—with neither officer batting an eye. They didn’t even look at us. They just kept looking straight ahead. They could have popped us for open containers, some bangers, using Bondo on the city road—who knows what else! But we were invisible to them.

Indy Pray Photo28 750pxBusted run-up and fresh outta Bondo, T-Funk had to pop hella early on this lipslide down 18 big ones. The Rust Belt don’t play

Indy Pray Photo29 750pxPedro gaps to grind while the late Mayor of Pittsburgh looks on. RIP, Richard Caliguiri

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And that moment set the tone for the rest of our time in Detroit. That place is rad! And we didn’t run into any other cops for the rest of the trip. As a matter of fact, I don’t even think we saw another police cruiser the whole time we were there. There’s some revitalization going on in the downtown area, but on the outskirts anything goes! The locals also pulled out the red carpet for us and we thank you! KISS said it best when they sang, “You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City,” and I think by the end of the trip a few of us did exactly that. Anarchy is best in small doses. Thank you, Detroit! Feeling blessed is an understatement.

Milton DZ 750pxMilton leaving his mark in Detroit

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