Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Monday, March 3, 2009, it finally snowed in DC! The girls and I went sledding for the first and only time during the 08-09 winter. It was fun, if a bit cold.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday Night Session at Jon's Warehouse Ramp 12.19.08

Friday night was rainy and cold. A perfect night for a skate session. It was a blast with about 20 of us there. I put the A in amatuer. The pictures aren't great and my camera battery ran low as I was starting to take pictures. I don't remember all the guys' names, so if you do, please post them here.

Monday, November 12, 2007


We went to Alcudia, a city at the northern tip of the island of Mallorca tow Sundays ago. It's a beautiful old Roman city. In the picture you can see a section of the old city wall. The narrow streets are mostly of Spanish architecture, with buildings ranging from the modern to the pre-gothic.
On Sundays, there's an open market where they sell everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes. After a stroll through the market, we went for a walk along the beach. It was a warm sunny day and the sea was a smooth as glass. There was a light breeze and further out in the bay, people were out boating. While the water is too cold to swim in, it is still warm enough to take off your shoes and wade in the water on the shore. At this time of year, there are virtually no tourists. Those that are there tend to be retirees from England and Germany. During the summer, this beach would be packed with tourists, windsurfers, kite surfers and boaters.

We then took a stroll along a back country road to see the old Roman ruins of Polentia. Here is a picture of the girls along a country road and another of the Roman ruins. After visitng the riuns, we walked back into Alcudia and had lunch at a pizzeria on one of Alcudia's smaller plazas. After lunch, we hit the playground and headed home for a nap and to play with the girls at the Huerto (orchard) where we live. A brilliant day, all in all!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thoughts on George Saunders' books

I’ve read several for George Saunders’ books by now. I started reading Saunders because he was touted by critics and book reviewers as being funny, absurdist and dark. He’s all those things. Certain themes come up over and over in his short stories. One is the themed microcosm. In “Civil War Land In Bad Decline,” which I’m reading now, there is a civil war theme park. The park is being vandalized by gangs. The solution is hiring an employee to be a sniper and shot the gang members. Another story is of a medieval village. In this story, some plague has hit the country and a section of the populace, flawed by one characteristic or another, becomes second class citizens. These flawed people make up the staff/actors in the village. They are relatively well off in the village, but live under the constant threat of being expelled and sent out into the “real world.” It’s not clear which is better. This brings up questions about euthanasia. Do you prefer to live a live of relative comfort, knowing it to be a mirage, or live a much more difficult one, a shabbier one, let’s say, but know that its “real”? This is the question the movie “The Matrix” explores.

In “In Persuasion Nation,” the first story is about a group of people who live in a controlled environment testing products for marketing. In each case, the protagonist is seeking a better life, often expecting that being out in the real world, however tough, has got to be better than where he or she is.

The characters in these stories have to be in character for their theme park or act as expected in their microcosm. The public who comes to see them are almost always portrayed as boorish or worse. Most of the characters co-workers are miserable people too, often mocking the protagonist.

In virtually every story that runs along these themed microcosm plots, the protagonist is concerned about the employee evaluation form. The protagonist, in each story, is just getting by, and afraid of losing his or her job. They often do, at the end, for better or worse. Every protagonist is down on their luck and over time, it makes for some pretty depressing reading. In most stories, the job and some part tragedy, such as losing a loved one, or having a love relationship go sour, seems to be what defines the character.

I sense that Saunders could be comic on other plains. I will continue to read his books; I still love the absurdism in his books, the way the bizarre microcosm seems to exist as part of the real world. I wish that he’d explore mining a new vein of plots though.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Excerpt from "A Hsitory of Love" by Nicole Krauss

My mom sent me this excerpt below which resonated with me: “Feelings are not as old as time” from The History of Love, Nicole Krauss. It's particularly poignant, in my mind, when the author talks about how surprise comes from a deviation from the feelings we already know. It's also interesting how we are addicted to feelings, ever seeking to feel greater happiness (and sorrow). It's also interesting how art came into being. Finally, it's hopeful in that there are new feelings to be experienced.

Feelings are not as old as time. Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret. When stubbornness was felt for the first time, it stared a chain reaction, creating a felling of resentment on the one hand, and alienation and loneliness on the other. IT might have been a certain counterclockwise movement of the hips that marked the birth of ecstasy, a bolt of lightning that caused the first feeling of awe. Or maybe it was the body of a girl named Alma. Contrary to logic, the feeling of surprise wasn’t born immediately. It only came after people had enough time to get used to things as they were. And when enough time had passed, someone felt the first feeling of surprise, someone, somewhere else, felt the first pang of nostalgia.
It’s also true that people felt things and because there was no word for them, they were unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved; but to describe it- just to name it- must have been like trying to catch something invisible.
(The again, the oldest feeling in the world might simply have been confusion.)
Having begun to feel, people’s desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People became addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It’s possible that this is how art was born. New kinds of joy were forged, along with new kinds of sadness: The eternal disappointment of life as it is; the relief of unexpected reprieve, the fear of dying.
Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom, or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Peace Crops Journal 4 Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, Poland
There are times in your life where the stars align. Things just seem to go your way. You’re doing what you love to do, you’re living somewhere interesting and you have great friends. For me, most of my life has been this way, but there are peak experiences mixed in which alter the way one sees the world. When a group of people click and you have a group of friends who get together for the sheer pleasure of each others company, it’s amazing. There isn’t a magic number for the group’s size, but its more interesting when it’s larger than, say, five people. You’re a collective, a crew, a posse, whatever cliché you want to insert here.

In D.C. we were a crew and did everything together. Since then, I’ve always sought to re-create that. It started to gel in Poland. Our posse spread across the country and we’d get together in different cities; it was like a rolling party when we did. It involved a trip to Berlin, to e-Werk in particular. A weekend with the crew would begin Thursday evening with people meeting in Warsaw at a bar; I forget the name of the place. That included Josie coming in from near Krakow, often it included Gabby and Bruce. Andrew and Solli might be there; Patrick too. DJ Misha, a German cat, could be found there. Same with (name escapes me, anyone , help, please). He was quite the character, half Chinese, half Portuguese. He used to be the lead singer for a metal band. We’d have a few beers and catch up on the week’s news and make plans for the evening. It basically involved finding a place to eat dinner. We’d go have oriental food in the old town, the Middle Eastern restaurant at the train station, or some other place that took our fancy. The variety of food in the capital was in and of itself a big draw. By 11:30 or so, we’d head down to Sczatnia, a local club that had a good house night. A Dutch DJ would play house and breaks along with some local DJs. It was brilliant. We’d catch up with whoever else we hadn’t met up with yet. There’d be a couple of guys I skated with at the Pepsi demo in Wroclaw. In short, we’d start the weekend off with a bang.

On one occasion we went to Ground Zero, a club in Warsaw, which Andrew used to manage. It was a Chippendales night the night we went, which as pretty funny. There were other great stories from that night, but I won’t get into them to protect the innocent.

Left to right: Back row: Bruce, John, Front Row: Gaby, Josie, Solli, Tyson, Andrew, Front, Eva.

On another occasion we went to some party in the outskirts of Warsaw, a hazy memory now. It was somewhere in the woods on the outskirts of Warsaw. Yet another time, we got together to see a Nick Cave concert. It was held in an auditorium that used to be used for Communist Part functions. The chairs were red velvet and there were boxes behind each seat where microphones used to reside. One time we were wandering back from a party when we passed an after hours bar, and someone opened the door and said “we were waiting for you.” It has a most surreal affect on us. We did a variety of things together. Anyway, Thursday and Fridays were really just a prelude to Saturday nights because that was when we went to e-Werk in Berlin.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An Electronic Music Website Worth Checking Out

For those of you who are into electronic music, here is a site that I spend some time on. It’s a community devoted to all types of electronic music. The way it works is that you sign up and participate in the community. You get points by linking in or contributing articles, posting comments, adding reviews of CDs or 12 inches. There are over 5000 sets on the site you can download. It’s a great way to fill up an Ipod, hard drive or a fist full of CDs or DVDs. It’s legal and a great way to keep up with the music and learn about new DJs and live acts.

Like many communities online, there are threads that are not of interest to me, or the discussion is on some topic I’m not all that interested in, but there are some cool features. For example, it’s a great place to post a question about a track you’ve heard somewhere.

The site also features live feeds and DJs who play on MPiii radio. I’d recommend this site to anyone who’s into techno, breaks, house, jungle, etc…


I’ve never lost interest in skateboarding since I got an SKF skateboard 1984. I learned the basics of skateboarding in Santiago, Chile where there was a skate park. I spend most of my time riding my BMX bike at there, but I brought my skateboard along occasionally to try and learn a few tricks. By tricks I mean learning to simply ride the skateboard and do a kick turn. The skate park in Santiago had a vert bowl with a roll in and pool coping. There was also a snake run that ended in a mellow bowl. (I was filled in and turned into a shopping area sometime in the mid 1990s).

When my family moved back to the States, we went first to Tennessee for a vist before moving back to Virginia. I was given a Sims New Wave deck for my birthday. It was a tank. It was about 31 inches long and ten inches wide. I had independent truck and purple Sims wheels on the board. It came with purple rails and a tail bone. Copers, a nose guard and a bird came shortly there after. Back then, everyone I knew had all the plastic protective stuff one could mount onto a board. I got it in Nashville, Tennessee and spent most of my time learning to street skate. Since I didn’t have my BMX bike, which was being shipped to Virginia, I focused on skating. That summer I skated my first mini ramp. From then on, I was hooked.

Once we moved to Virginia, I started to skate whenever I could. I don’t recall what happened to my Sims deck; it must have fallen apart. I made new skateboarding friends and we skated all over my neighborhood, my high school and the town of McLean. Before I had my driver’s license, I’d skate two miles into town, skate for hours and then skate back. It was mostly street skating at first and the occasional jump ramp we built. I could do little more than a few simple tricks. My friends and I would watch the Powell Peralta Bones Brigade video virtually every day for inspiration and then go out and skate.

There were several things that impacted my skating ability. The first was my parents’ support. They would take me places to skate, watch and encourage me. They bought me the gear when I could not afford it and my dad in particular, who probably would have preferred that I had stuck with baseball, supported me nonetheless. Over the next two years, I got progressively better until one day a skater at my school named Chris Wassel taught me how to ollie. That was the second major change. It reshaped my entire skate experience from that point on. Once I could ollie, I never looked back. I could jump onto curbs and ledges. For street skating, this was unlocking a new dimension. It paid off on ramps too.

There was a mini ramp next to Neil Wadhwa’s house that I skated with Neil and Phil all the time. It was an 8 foot wide, four foot tall mini. We skated that ramp almost every day. If it snowed, we shoveled it off right away so that it’d be dry and we could skate it. I learned a lot of my tricks there. I learned most of my early ramp tricks on this ramp, and took them to bigger ramps later.

The other major factor was getting my driver’s license. I was mobile. I could drive to ramps in Northern Virginia. While I skated street more than anything else, because it was the easiest to get to and by far the most abundant, I craved skating ramps. Mini ramps were the easiest to skate and I could do the most tricks on them, but my true love was vert. I considered pools the pinnacle of skating, but there were few pools to skate. Any pool session was clandestine. There were ramps in McLean, Great Falls, and of course there was Cedar Crest, out in Centerville. With a car, I could hit all these spots. The car also meant that I could go to a really good drainage ditch we called the toll bowl. When it rained, we could go to parking garages. I skated pretty much every day after school, all day Saturday and Sunday if possible. I even snuck out at night sometimes to skate a bit more. At the end of day sessions, we’d end up at Neil’s ramp.

I skated with my buddies Phil Kim and Tari Ahmed whenever I could; we had some really great times skating together.

I went to college in Greensboro, NC. There we had several mini ramps, a ditch called the causeway and some street decent street spots. By 1989, an indoor skate park was built. I would have liked to have gone there more often, but it was about 20 miles away and I didn’t always have access to a car. I’d skate with Nikos Chremos almost every day. We had such fun!

During the summers, I’d skate a lot of ramps at home. I went to Cedar Crest in Centerville, Virginia when I could find the time. It was a gigantic metal ramp that drew some of the best skaters on the east and west coasts. There were puck rock shows and parties there from time to time which where really fun. I’d drive to Richmond or Baltimore to skate for the day; sometimes even farther. Part of the fun was the trip to wherever the next skate spot could be found. All through high school and college, I was into hardcore shows. I’d bring my board wherever we went and we’d skate before and after the shows. If they were matinee show, we’d sometimes skate in between sets.

After college, I moved back to Washington, D.C. I started to skate a bit less because of work and other activities, but I managed to make it out about once a week. I mostly street skated, but would go to ramps whenever I could find one relatively close by.

In June of 1995, I went to Poland with the Peace Corps. I brought a street board because I couldn’t bring a ramp board as well. I brought knee pads, but no other protective gear. I had no idea what I would find. During the first three months in Poland I lived in a town called Tomasow Masowietski. Within days of arriving, I met all the local skaters and we’d street skate together from time to time. It wasn’t until I moved to the town I was posted to; Wroclaw, that I really got to do much skating. I met the locals pretty quickly there as well, and they turned me on to a few local street spots to skate. Within a year of arriving, a local company and the town council built a vert ramp. I was set. My friend Cole came over to visit shortly after the ramp was built and I had him bring the remaining safety gear and my ramp board. I would go there whenever I had the time. Being American, I was exotic and became pretty well known around town. By my second year in Poland, I was taking the train up to Warsaw to party and to skate the two skate parks there. Towards the end of my first year, I was starting to get noticed and skated on the Wroclaw leg of the Pepsi tour and was offered a sponsorship to tour Poland for the summer, which I ended up turning down.

When Silvia and I moved back to the States, I didn’t skate much. We had a busy social life and there wasn’t anything particularly cool to skate near our apartment. I still kept my skateboard in the car in case I saw something worth skating. Around 2003, I started to go to the Vans skate park, which has recently closed. I’d go with the guys on Thursday nights from time to time. It was great because it was like the adult swim at a community pool, only people our age. That was the beginning of my return to skateboarding as it were.

In 2004, a skate park opened in Alexandria near where we lived and I went there a few times while Silvia and Eva were in Spain. It had a two ramps and a street area. It wasn’t great, but certainly much better and closer than anything I’d seen up until then. I didn’t have to wait long for the skate park in North Arlington to be built and that settled it. I had skating on the brain. The skate park has two bowls, a spine and a street area. I go pretty much every Saturday morning for the daddy skate session. I hang with my buddies and skate. It’s brilliant. I see Jamie Early most Saturdays; we started skating together back in 1992. (I’ve added a few pictures to my website: ( for those who are interested).

This summer I’ll have three weeks without my family and I plan to live at the skate park. I’m even entering a contest on July 29, 2006. Should be fun.

The Boards
Man, if you’ve read this far, you must be a skater, and if so, then indulge me while I reminisce about all the skateboards I’ve had. After skating for over 20 years, you accumulate some history with the sport and the boards. During my high school period, I had a Tony Magnusson, two Hosoi Hammerhead decks, two Madrid Claus Grabke decks. After high school, during college, and thereafter, in approximately this order, I skated Santa Cruz Claus Grabke, a Schmidtt Stick Andy McDowell, a Sims Kevin Stabb, a Vision Gonzales, a Powell Tony Guerrero, a Small Room, and an Alien Workshop Ron Allen board. After college, I had a Blind Gonzales, and a Jeremy Klein birdhouse deck: I don’t remember the model. I’m now skating a Cult Cooks deck and have a black label Hosoi set up as well as a black label Lucero long board. I also have a five points deck in the wings.