Sunday, April 18, 2010


Only this time [as opposed to last time] I plan on not putting bills into the vending machine next to the one I'm trying to get something from. The crazy thing about that experience last Saturday [I first wrote "Sunday" because I thought that's when the vending machine/skate park episode occurred—thus the title reference to the Monkees' song] was that part of my brain was completely aware that it was the wrong machine, but the money slot in the right machine looked too complicated, so another part of my brain, the brain-surgery-recovering side I guess thought, well, let's go for the easy slot even if it IS the wrong one!

And the new skate board I ended up getting for my youngest here last week? It's home, because on Friday his oldest friend finally brought him a belated birthday present (from October) a brand new Element deck he loves. So that's next to my feet while his feet are in his rollerblades doing the half pipe.

He's happy to be among other kids this far from his home (about 45 minutes or so) where none of the bullies back there can bother him and the kids he meets here are pretty open. Skateboarders are generally pretty open, allowing every kid to skate at his level and complimenting them when they learn a new trick no matter how easy or difficult. At least that's been his experience, and mine as an observer, and his brother's and nephew's as skaters.

But in our neck of the woods, the tiny skate park they had to put behind the new police station because the old tiny one was getting messed up by rougher kids coming in from nearby Irvington and Newark and taking over with an almost gang attitude and mentality about it.

Even behind the police station these older kids can be relentless in their mocking and dismissive put downs of someone like my youngest who isn't quite as daring at some tricks as they are (though he's daring enough, dropping into the cement pool at the skate park we frequent in The Berkshires last week in shorts and a tee and no pads etc, and doing it with grace and style, or dropping fourteen feet into the deep wooden bowl at Garden Sk8, another indoor park we've gone to a lot but not today because they don't allow rollerblades just strictly skateboards.)

So happy to be here, and though it's cool out again, the sun is shining through the puffs of cloud making the new blossoms shine with color and life, the way I feel inside.

Oh and yes, I dig the Monkees, even though I didn't when they were first fabricated by some guys from the hill (i.e. wealthy, at least more than me and my family) in my Jersey hometown. But after my older boy and the band he was in in high school in Santa Monica back then started doing some of their tunes, or at least one I can think of, "Stepping Stone," I realized their music was actually, is actually, a lot of fun.

Seems to be the theme, not a bad one in these turbulent and confrontational times (no accident that the times were also turbulent and confrontational when the Monkees were formed and made their mark, hmmmm, maybe it's time for some fun music again—some of which I heard earlier today on NPR from a group from Iran, refugees in England, Human Jungle, check them out (and don't confuse them with "The Human Jungle")—well not exactly "fun" like the troubles of their country and their exile doesn't impact their music in some ways—the footage in the video is from a documentary about Iran's underground "rock" scene shot with phony permits and in only eight days to avoid the authorities—but the main feeling is one of joy in music and their new found freedom to play it any way they like in England as opposed to their native Iran).

[PS: written at this indoor skate park (Shields) amid the noise (very loud from the wheels on wood and kids yelling and the warehouse style—that's what it was I assume originally—giant space and hard surfaces etc.) and kids and their parents talking and crying and laughing and coming and going...]

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