Sunday, March 27, 2005

BusStop goes to Tampa Pro 2009

Reposted from Stories ran on March 27, 2009

Part 1: Friday

Setting up for this trip was a somewhat daunting task, and there were a few notable hurdles that I just had to plow right through. First of all, more than a couple of the hotels in Tampa seemed to be operated by people who rarely speak English, so room reservations were out. On top of that, I had reserved a rental van 3 different times. With the first one, Enterprise called back 2 days later telling me they don't own the van I wanted, or even a van at all. Nice. The local company called me back 2 days before the trip to tell me that their van broke down. Rad! Finally, I went to Budget Rental in OP and got shit taken care of.

Once Friday morning finally came around, I made the wakeup calls and rounded people up. The lineup of our crew drastically changed in the last few hours of departure, with a few calling out, a few not calling me at all, and a couple of new faces filling in empty spots. We were actually over capacity in the van, and everyone had to take turns sitting on the floor throughout the trip. The final lineup consisted of me driving, Captain J, Graver, Mike Murphy, Matt Fink, Laura, Moricophoto, and Chris Jolly.

Once we were all in the van, we headed south down 95 to our first stop, Flagler skatepark - AKA Wadsworth, AKA the Purple Park. Luckily, a senior citizen at Wendy's clued us in to the park's location, but not before he told a story about his favorite one-legged wrestler from Texas. It sounded as if he'd told the story quite a few times before-This is why I don't live in Palm Coast. Well. One of the reasons. I bet people down here get stories like that 8 times a day.
Mike Murphy, Pop Shove over the Box
Mike Murphy - Pop Shove to Flat

2009-03-20 at 13-04-26 (1)
Matt Fink, 360 Flip

After some searching, we found the park. This place was alright. I think one of the ramps had a bullet hole in it. From what it looked like, half of the ramps were older, done with some strange kind of metal prefab stuff, and the other half was sketchy Skatewave stuff that is slippery as hell. The miniramp was the same minimal-flat style as the one at the park out off Racetrack road in Jacksonville. Hard to skate. However, this one actually had a good hip and a spine ramp that went off the back, so it's not quite as bad. There were some other things that were interesting, if not awesome, like the picnic table that Fink skated, and the semi-pyramid in the corner that dropped off to flat on two sides.
2009-03-20 at 13-16-32 (1)
Captain J
2009-03-20 at 16-09-03 (1)

As a little side note to city planners, don't invest in Skatewave. I'm sure they are alright dudes and everything, but the ramps they build are total shit. Just my opinion. Thanks.

After we were done at the purple park, we were back on the road heading south toward the public park in New Smyrna Beach. On the way there, we saw some crazy spots, but unfortunately we didn't have much time to stop and skate. The new Smyrna Park was small but fun. The bowl looked sick, and it seemed to be a fun flow park to cruise around at. Once we all rode around the park a bit and got ready to film, it came to our realization that a key item was left at the last park - The lens for the video camera. Not willing to give up this 800 dollar item to the first person to find it, we hauled ass back up 95 in an effort to get to it before kids got out of school and could get their hands on it. Luckily, with some help from the locals, we got it back, though it was still a rattling experience.
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2009-03-20 at 15-00-08 (1)
Indy Tweaker
With our gear accounted for, we headed south to I-4 to our next stop, the Maitland banks. These things are classic, and apparently this is what Team Pain based the brick quarter at Ed Austin on. Basically, this spot is almost a city block full of brick quarter pipes stretching running down the sidewalk and around 2 plaza-like corners. Half of it was skatestopped with flat bars across the foot of the transition, though it looks like some locals turned those flat bars into skateable objects, too. We skated here till it got dark. Graver Kickflipped to fakie and backide disastered, Murph did a varial pivot, and Fink just ripped it a new one in general. After this, we were done with skateboarding for the day.
2009-03-20 at 18-09-52 (1)
Kevin Graver
Graver, shot by Morico
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We headed south down I-4 toward Tampa. We made 3 more stops before reaching Days Inn in Tampa - Once to eat at Hooters in Lakeland, and twice due to a crew member drinking heavily on an empty stomach.
2009-03-20 at 21-44-11 (1)

I was glad to be at the hotel once we got there. Thanks to Laura's military discount, we got a hookup on the rooms, and I appreciated that. Thanks Laura. I went back to my room and crashed the f**k out.

As an added bonus, I have some footy from friday I took with my crappy handicam:

Part 2: Saturday

Finally, we were in Tampa. First thing on the list was breakfast. I've heard lots of stories about awesome breakfast places in Tampa- some in Ybor, some near the park... we partook in none of that. We went to a Denny's near some strip clubs with graffiti all over them. Sure, the food was less than fantastic, but there is something to be said about reliability. And Denny's serves breakfast after 11am for slack asses like myself. I can appreciate that. Once we finished up at Denny's, we headed to the park. Getting in the park was hassle free, and I'm glad for that. With most events these days, you need to talk to 40 different people, acquire five wrist bands, and can only stand in one spot to shoot photos. I'm glad that style of event management doesn't take place at the Tampa Pro contest. We got to the park sometime during the warmups for the first heat on Saturday, and there were already plenty of people skating the street course to keep your eyes busy and your neck tired. I was glad that I was able to get a spot on the course with no issues at all.

I took this photo of Murf with my phone, and then used that app that made his titties jiggle.

Vert was in full effect when we got there, and it didn't take too much time for it to be over. There were ten competitors total in pro vert. Not a lot, but it was rad to see guys like Mike Frazier skating in a contest, he's always been one of my favorite vert skaters to watch. Lincoln Uueda was there following his normal flight pattern. It's a good thing they just rebuilt that ramp to be so solid, because otherwise I think his body jars could have leveled the whole thing. I watched some solid runs by Danny Mayer, PLG, and Anthony Furlong, too. When all was said and done, PLG took first place.

2009-03-21 at 11-52-32
PLG spinning around in the air. (click)

Lincoln Ueda got real high.

2009-03-21 at 12-38-55
Vert Awards

The street course this year seemed pretty basic, but solid. Didn't seem too much different from last year as far as I remember it. There were some notable new things, including the long quarter across the back of the park, with a wide hip sticking out of the middle of it just below the coping. I don't know what this kind of thing is called, but it was kind of gnarly, lots of people were doing long grinds over and around the hip, and I even saw Dennis Busenitz wallride UNDER the coping, and above the hip-like on a surface that's maybe a foot tall. Insane.

Mikey Taylor

Keegan Sauder. Note, this was on a bank to wall, not a quarter pipe, so it's extra gnar.

Strubing has one, too.

2009-03-21 at 13-47-13
I couldn't read my handwriting from when I wrote this guy's name. He was dope though, whoever he is. Somebody help me out.

When I was taking breaks from shooting the contest, I made it a point to hit up the snack bar for beans and rice. I don't know what they put in that stuff, but damn do I wish they had that at Kona. Just give me some of those sweet ass black beans and yellow rice like they have here, a bottle of hot sauce, and a PBR, and I'd be in skateboard heaven. (This is not meant as a diss to Kona though, those Grandma cookies and Kona dogs nourished me through my childhood.)

After things at the park were winding down on Saturday, we all took off to the hotel to get ready for the Ghostface and Raekwon show at the Ritz in Downtown Ybor City. The show was part of the Tampa Pro weekend, and organized by the guys from the park. As far as shows are concerned, this one is one of the best hip-hop shows I've been to in a while, and I was stoked to be around so many people that I looked up to, and shared something in common with. (I'm not talking about those stinky hand-rolled things people were passing around in the audience, FYI.)

After the show, we all found our way back to the Day's Inn, and some of us found a crew to play dice with. Loudly. At 4am. Good thing I'm a heavy sleeper! We were all having a good time, and it would show the next day.

Up Next - Sunday!

Part 3: Sunday

Sunday morning was a mess. On Saturday night, we all got in from the show at various hours of lateness, and all celebrated the night a little more than your average person would have. We had a good time. The show was insane, hanging out with bros and pros alike at the Resevoir Bar really took me back to the old days, when I would frequent the Art Bar in Riverside and see everyone I know having a good time. I really have to hand it to the guys at the SPoT for knowing how to throw a party. And I also have to hand it to Chris Jolly for looking so good in those teal girl shorts. And Rob Meronek for that White suit. I bet if I had a kit like that, I would have girls all over me, too.

Since Saturday morning, everyone in the group wanted to go skate. Something about watching people skateboard for 2 days straight might do that to you. We made plans to go to the Bro Bowl, but slept through them, so we ended up going right to the park from the hotel. I found a way to wake myself up promptly at 10:30, right before checkout time at 11. Waking up everyone else, however, was another beast of a task entirely. I didn't mind though, but since I had to play the responsible adult on the trip, I made it my task to deal with the lovely room service people at Day's Inn. I had finally met the one person on staff who spoke english, but unfortunately it wasn't the english I wanted to hear. "You have to get out." I still have chills from that lady's voice. (I mean, I think it was a lady's voice.) I can't hold it against her for having a shitty attitude, because if you've ever been to a hotel near the park around pro contest time, you'd know - employees of those places usually have a ton of shit to clean up afterward.

Yo dog, I heard you like Tampa Pro, so I installed a TV in your Tampa Pro so you can watch Tampa Pro while you chill with your friends at Tampa Pro.

We made a quick stop for breakfast, and we got to the park sometime around 12 or so. It wasn't long after that when I heard about Antwuon Dixon getting the permaban from the park. I'm not sure what happened to warrant the boot, but it did remind me of last year, when Nate Johnson was telling me how stoked he was to be locked up with Antuwon Dixon, and be bailed out and back at the park the next day thanks to Jake Schrickling. Memories!

Lookin' good, Jolly.

So back to the contest. Once I got my Gatorade from a hot mom and wolfed down my beans and rice in a Pepsi cup, I headed back on to the course so I could shoot some more photos. I got a good spot in the corner and stayed there for a bit, but Adam Dyet killed it - totally blew it out by vomiting all over someone's shirt that was right by my feet. That's rock and roll for you right there. You'd better believe he earned that spot on the Skatepark of Tampa Party Team.

At this point, finding a spot to stand and watch was nearly impossible, and finding a good photo spot was hard too. I pretty much had to keep my eye out for when a filmer or a photographer left his spot, or a skateboarder or two dropped in at a key location. I finally saw an opening above the long quarter with the embedded hip, so I awkwardly ran across the course with my dorky photo bag and scurried up the ramp like a kid sneaking in for an autograph.

I stayed at this spot for a good while. While I was there, I saw Nick Dompierre K-grind to fakie over the hip, Ed Selego grinding it fakie, and Mike Peterson ollied the whole damn thing. Later on, he tried to kickflip it. I also saw Gershon Mosely skating the corner by this thing, which was cool - I haven't seen or heard from him in a good while.

2009-03-22 at 13-29-28
This one is super big because it's Matt Beach and he's one of my favorites.

2009-03-22 at 13-20-25
Nick Dompierre did this over that hip thing to fakie. This one is real big cuz he has a dope hat that I want. Want one like his? You have to go to Solstice Skateshop in Massachusetts. Get me one while you are there. Thanks.

2009-03-22 at 13-02-24
Eric Koston, 5-0 to fakie around the corner.

2009-03-22 at 13-08-20
Kyle Berard. You rip, homie. I think this is a switch smith grind.

2009-03-22 at 13-14-27
YES, I did have my camera on the right setting. It's just that Paul Shier was going so goddamn fast it looks blurry here.

2009-03-22 at 13-37-13
People come to skate Tampa Pro from all kinds of exotic locations. Milton Martinez is from Mar del Plata Argentina and likes to grab melons. And me, I'm from Jacksonville and I like to grab melons.

Come to think of it, tons of dudes came out of the woodwork this year. Karl Watson was there skating (hope you feel better homie), Pete Ramondetta was there,(sooo gnarly) pretty much the whole Girl/Chocolate team, even crazy old Matt Field showed up to do handstands, give hugs, and skate out of the park in the middle of his run.

Unfortunately, we had to cut our trip short, as some of us had jobs the next day, some of us had court dates, and some of us just wanted to go skate before we got home. I was bummed, but leaving early gave us the chance to finally hit up the Bro Bowl in downtown Tampa. Although we missed the finals, I had a great time anyway, and I really want to say thanks to they people at the park for an awesome event. Clements, you hooked me up big time, and you saved our crewmate from having to sit on the deck and stare at the moat all day. Schaefer, thanks for everything, your park and your employees are all cool as hell. Including the Wizard. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone who was part of the trip. Even though I stressed, got nervous, and drove badly on the final stretch of the trip, I had a great time. I'm still sore from the trip a week later, but that's OK - its a reminder of a rad trip.

Before I go, here are some images of the Bro Bowl in Downtown Tampa near the PJs. We didn't come here to shoot, we just came to unwind and have a good time before we left. I was glad to finally skate here. I was even more glad that I was able to run to my rental van and drive off before the nastiest tow truck driver I'd ever heard of carted it off.

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2009-03-22 at 15-23-44
I heard they were going to get rid of this place a few years back. I'm glad they didn't.

Video Footage From Tampa Pro by Chris Jolly

Nick Dompierre

Nick Dompierre @ Tampa Pro 2009 from Norm Stovall on Vimeo.

Mikey Taylor

Chaz Ortiz

Untitled from Norm Stovall on Vimeo.