Friday, November 5, 2021

48 SK8

Recently I read that dropping in is to ramp skateboarding what ollie-ing is to flat-ground skateboarding.

I learnt to do the former 32 years after the latter.

I bought my first wide skateboard in 1986 for AU$110.

Aussie surf culture ruled, and one day at the mall my parents rocked my world when they bought me a florescent yellow, pink, and blue sweatshirt front-printed with a brand name which escapes me. I put it with my white “Beau Geste” mudflap cap and pink Lightning Bolt tee on my wardrobe shelf reserved for “surf” clothing that I wore around landlocked Canberra.

I’d been saving for a Tamiya remote-control car that cost $150, but was seduced one day in the surf shop by a matt white skateboard splashed with another forgettable, fluro brand name – “Reflex” – that I could afford to buy straightaway. Had I carried on saving and bought the Tamiya instead, would I now be as taken with RC cars as I am with skateboarding, and a better goal setter and achiever?

Parallel universe stuff.

A few months later Reflex was loaded into a shipping container, and we returned to New Zealand. I sold Reflex to my brother, who spray-painted it florescent yellow and, underneath, painted black stickmen chasing an animal with spears. He also blew my mind one day in the garage when he popped an ollie.

By 1989 the skateboard craze was cranking, and I worked my two-week school holiday in a chicken hatchery to save for a new board. Obviously I’d forgotten about RC cars, because on payday I walked into Cheapskates Henderson and dropped $340 on a Santa Cruz Jeff Grosso deck, Independent trucks, wheels, bearings, tail guard, nose guard, and rails. That’s more than double what I paid for a new Santa Cruz complete in 2021! Maybe because it weighed double (then add to that the weight of my crepe-soled Nomad school shoes that I often skated in, and I’m surprised I got airborne!).

But ollie I did, up the curb on our dead-end street. Then we moved house to the countryside, miles from anywhere skateable. Fortunately though, every morning my dad drove my brother and me with our skateboards to asphalted Waitakere train station, where we boarded a virtually empty train to Avondale College; we skated the aisle, altering our speed relative to the ground. We learnt physics while other kids were still rubbing sleep from their eyes.

The lunchtime skaters congregated around a plywood quarter-pipe that someone had brought to school, and among the Knievels launching off it was Scott Lyons, a pimply, stocky, mulleted king of the jungle. He pioneered bike inner-tube footstraps. I was just trying to ollie or no-comply up a nearby curb in my Nomads.

No train station, train, or concrete at our next house, but at least our street was paved, and on it was a primary school where we stashed a long, solid piece of wood to ollie up onto and railslide (boardslide) on.

Then I was desperate for Doc Martins, so sold my board (to my brother?) and bought some brown low-cuts. Decades passed, over which I noticed the old whale-tail deck shape morph into the current, straight-side “popsicle”, and last year I got back in the game with a second-hand Shifty for $40. Last Christmas my wife and I bought our two young boys 22-inch cruiser boards, but then our eldest started using my board for Young Guns skate school. So on payday I went to Boardertown and bought myself a new complete (I can play with my son’s RC car anytime).

New Lynn bowl is where I first dropped in (fell off the second time), and from there progressed to the waist-high ramp at Valonia skatepark, then the Waterview nipple-high.

Monday, May 4, 2020


Ever since I could stand I've had the world at my feet.

Chinese junk now refers to what's inside the ship.

Every room in a rest home is a restroom.

Confucius say: bear loose in chemistry class creates pandammonium.

Confucius say: toilet seat unnecessary if making stool.

Confucius say: racing mind not fast asleep.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
It saw the jay walking.

Which came first, chicken or egg?

One's lot in life is a lot.

Parenting will age you - you choose what age.

Even better than an unputdownable book is one that sleep makes you drop.

Dazzle dazzle giant sun
wondering is now not fun
you're a close star in my eye
stare too long and I might die


Clear afternoon sky,
ice cream wind
hot caramel sundae

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Pain in the rear

As usual my militant body clock rang at 4.46am, and I tried in vain to hit snooze. After delaying the inevitable for 14 minutes I turned on the light and resumed looking for my beige travel money belt, a search I’d quit on last thing the night before. I quickly found it under my bed, which meant I’d be able to carry my phone with me on my bicycle, to upload my ride to the Strava app. Before zipping away my phone I used its flashlight to illuminate the barn door combination lock, before wheeling out my bike.

As is so often the case when I run or ride in the morning, it is still technically nighttime, and I feel slightly unnatural walking, scantily clad, down darkened driveway past my neighbor’s bedroom window where they are exercising their gift of being able to sleep past stupid o’clock. But I do love mornings, and mostly I find it a treat to step outside and expose my pasty thighs to moon or starlight.

I hoisted myself onto my blue Bauer Momentum and rolled out onto the smooth, black asphalt of my quiet, suburban street. The main road was extra quiet for early Saturday morning due to the covid-19 lockdown, and I turned and began pedaling up Great North Road to where it starts gently descending towards the start of Ash Street.

I’d forgotten to take a good look at the stars from my driveway, and now couldn’t because of the bright streetlights, and I couldn’t be bothered stopping. I did momentarily look up, but the thought of how stupid I’d feel if I crashed my bike on an empty, four-lane road caused me to quickly revert to conventional means of navigation.

On the other side of the road a police car drove by, and I did a quick mental checklist of how I might be breaking the law. I say “might” because I still don’t know if it’s illegal to cycle in the dark without a front light. But, hey, at least I have a vigorously flashing rear light, which the police would have seen when they looked back to check if I at least had a vigorously flashing rear light, making me not worth imprisoning.

Unbeknownst to me, there lay on the other side of the road something of greater concern.

On through the giant, ghost intersection that marked the beginning of Titirangi Road, and the hill climb into the Waitakere Ranges – my languid, lockdown legs and lungs keenly anticipating the resistance.

Keen to keep my ride under 40 minutes, I turned around about one kilometer shy of the summit, and began screaming downhill. The roadside electronic speed display awoke to show 45km/hr.

Ash Street traffic is normally heavy, and out of habit I rode quite close to the curb. Suddenly I felt a mild bump and realized I’d run over something that had attached itself to my rear tyre. Then I heard a flapping sound and felt both a lack of air cushioning ... and deflated.

Crap. My second puncture in three days. I pulled over and began running my fingertips round the tyre to find the offending article. These things can sometimes be hard to find ... and sometimes they are a ruddy great 2.5-inch nail! I pulled it out, uploaded my ride (12.6km, 30 minutes), and began the two-kilometer walk home, both wondering how a lame nail had so accurately and effectively found its target (had it been a trap laid by a schoolboy?.. I know I used to dream up such schemes), and mildly berating myself for not riding 3cm wider of the curb. “Oh well, I’d enjoyed a long period of inflation," I figured, "so I guess was now due a couple of flatties.” Yes, plural. The other one had been on my other bike, a newer road bike that, after he'd stored for eons in my folks’ garage, my Christchurch-based bro-in-law had recently given me.

The nail pierced the tyre side wall and both sides of the inner tube, so I took the punctured tube off my other bike, repaired it, and paired it with the holy tyre - which had more tread - on my Bauer. A nice wee activity to do with the kids of a lockdown Sunday morning.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Lying under trees

The city screams at me to race,
Buses snarl
Signs grip me, draining their venom right down
to the logo
I walk with a scowl, and judge other scowls
I breathe in greed and shut out need
I carry it on my shoulders;
shallow breaths

Tilt my brain
Blue sky flood
Exchanged with an old woman ahead of me on the bus

The time to write will come

I give you my latest poem
as good as any I’ve read

always the last I’ll write

poetry is the bird on the windowsill

that appears

when nothing could be further from your mind,
when you least feel like a poet

by grace the bird appears when finally

I put pen down and start living.

if you’re moving in step with life,
giving as you should
taking as you should,

leaving behind as you should
remembering as you should

..then your eyes will be open to the soft landing
of sparrows' feet at your window

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Cycle Diary

Today I saw the sunrise from the Waitakere Ranges, and the sunset at Piha Beach. And I set off this morning under a full moon.

After stopping at The Piha Store for a coffee and to sit down and eat my breakfast and start writing this, I felt the nudge to put pen and paper back in the pannier bag and continue cycling the further one kilometre to the beach.

I now sit in the dunes and grass, the clear morning sun at my right shoulder spotlighting an endless blue stage. A pod of surfers sits, watching a horizon that swells with small, clean breaks. The prize peak arrives and three or four surfers leap to their feet, walking like disco Jesus; then the wave obeys them and they get back in the boat.

The west coast is benign today, tempering my image of it as wild, frightening, and deadly.

With only four kilometres left to ride I'd seen my shadow for the first time on the road before me, stretched and sharp - a silhouette mirror. I'd woken early and set out in the dark at 6am, an hour before I'd planned to, but the moon was perfectly full and the roads empty, being Good Friday, so I set my rear light pulsing, and rolled. My bike hummed on a new front tyre, and my vintage pannier bags enjoyed their first airing for 20 years, reunited with their purple aluminum Bor Yueh bike rack. Despite being 25 years old, my blue Bauer road bike still has plenty of life left in it. One careful mother-in-law owner, it sat in the garage at the family home for who knows how long, and five years ago Lynn gave it to me.

It's been a sweet ride, but its low gear isn't low enough for me not to have to push it like a pack mule up some of the gnarly hills in the ranges. I'd planned to stop for breakfast at the top of the hill, but I felt good, so I pressed on, completing the 30km ride in 98 minutes.

After a breakfast of sago pudding, boiled eggs, two feijoas, half an apple, and some pie crust, I made for the beach where I'm generally just sitting around soaking in the remoteness and sea-renity. And reading my book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and writing. And eating my peanut butter sandwich.
For lunch I hoisted my vagrant ass up the stairs at the Piha Surf Life Saving Club restaurant where I sat on the verandah overlooking the lifesavers over the road, and hammered a beef burger and fries. I'd hoped to also have a beer, but the restaurant isn't serving alcohol today, because this Friday is Good enough already ...

Fortunately I had a can of beer in one of my pannier bags, which meant I was still able to have a beer with lunch, but just not while I was eating it, and not in the restaurant. I saddled up and headed back around past The Piha Store and on along the road to North Piha Beach, where I would be staying the night. To my surprise the carparks at the north end were just as full as the two at the other more iconic and "glamorous" (some very snazzy holiday homes there) end.

The first public toilet I came to seemed like the perfect place to drink my beer, so I tied up my steed, drained my bladder, filled up my water bottle, and went outside and drained my can. Dinner was a fall from grace: rice and a few potato crisps mixed together in the bottom of the chip bag - something I'd prepared earlier; I was pleasantly surprised to find that the chips were still crisp.
To be continued ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The the


The future is the buried wick
the past the crumbled soot but
the flame burns up, bright and tall
moving imperceptibly to those whose
way it lights


The pigeons downtown must
think it strange to see
people pigeonholed
in their towers
working late
to be able to
to buy

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dream team

Last night I felt what it's like to intercept a pass in a rugby game when, in my dream, I was caught up in a match that broke out in the stand at a NZ Warriors rugby league game. This is the latest episode in my recurring dream that I am facing my fear of playing rugby, and my intercept is, thus far, my greatest rugby moment. I was eventually tackled, which wasn't as bone-crunching as I expected it to be - in fact it was almost as though I was put down gently on the concrete bleacher. Perhaps there is something in my Kiwi psyche that knows I should play, or at least have played, rugby and it's found an outlet in my dreamland. Perhaps it's not too late to return to high school as an adult student and sign up for the 2nd XV, or at least try to start an impromptu match on the sideline.