Kings Of New York

Kings Of New York
The DC Team Moves To The Big Apple
Words by Jefferson Pang
Photography by Mike Blabac

In New York City during the 80s, the Brooklyn Banks were center stage for skateboarding. First made known to skateboarders outside of New York via Future Primitive, the Bones Brigade rolled down the boardwalk of the Brooklyn Bridge to shred the most famous real street spot in NYC.
I can’t imagine what the Brigade thought, or any out-of-towner for that matter, when they saw the perfect, head-high, red brick wave of the big banks and then the chest-high hip of the little banks. To us, it was our front yard and, of course, none of us ever saw such a heavy lineup of skaters in our city, because a visiting pro was so rare. And to have the entire Bones Brigade, well, that was unheard of.
We did, however, have the all-star crew, Shut Skates. These boys would show up and tear sh-t up harder than anyone we had seen in videos or magazines. Crews from every borough and Jersey would congregate at the Brooklyn Banks on the weekends. Some of us would meet at 7:30 in the morning. (Funny how you can make it out skateboarding earlier than you can even make it to class during the week). We would stay there for hours, perfecting trick after trick, depending on what was the newest one out that month.
Every few weeks, the kids from the projects around the corner from the Banks got bored and would roll up with about ten to twenty people. If they outnumbered the kids skating the Banks, they would proceed to rob them. If the skaters outnumbered the kids from the projects, they would just walk off, or we would retaliate by chasing them as well. After a while, they figured out that we skateboarders always had a weapon with us, so they would show up with bats sometimes. The ironic thing was that this guy Benji, out of an apartment in those very projects, ran the closest thing to a skate shop in the area. It was always a little bit creepy going into some older dudes apartment to get skate product, especially having to take such a huge risk entering the projects alone. Despite the creep factor, he was a really cool guy and wanted to support his son and friends’ passion for skateboarding. If it wasn’t for him, we would have to take a ride on the subway to replace our broken kingpins.
After skating the Banks, we would head further downtown, whether it be to skate the brown marble benches at the triangle or to terrorize the staff at the Burger King, sharing one soda fountain cup among ten or so skaters. I remember this one time, Michael Hernandez made a young Spanish girl cry and run into the back of the kitchen when he pointed at her screaming, “Yo, she has a f-king mustache!” From there we would either make our way to the South Street Seaport or further down the Financial District skating every office plaza along the way.
Once the downtown session was over and done with, we would either jump on the subway and go shred the spots of midtown Manhattan, or skate the streets up to Washington Square Park for some 40-ounces of Old English (You ever see that movie Kids? HH-RIP). Yes, sometimes what you see in movies is true to a certain extent. The day usually ended with a late-night session at the Cube harassing everyone who walked by.
That is the beauty of this city. It’s probably one of the last places in the country where you can get away with doing just about anything you want as long as you’re not hurting anybody else. Of course, it’s not like the pre-Giuliani era when we were able to drink beer and smoke in public, but nowadays it’s getting back to the laid-back environment back then, minus the higher crime rate.

Today, the frequency of professional skateboarders visiting New York City has increased dramatically to the point where skaters were actually moving to New York City. Now, this place is a must-hit destination for all true street skaters. Hell, we even have one of the founding fathers of streetkating living here full-time. Yeah, it’s not unheard of to bump into Mark Gonzales randomly on his board or doing head-high wallrides on his full-suspension mountain bike on 2nd Avenue at two o’clock in the morning.
Since the 80s, the Brooklyn Banks have officially become an NYC skatepark along with the more recently constructed skatepark underneath the Manhattan Bridge. There have been countless transplants from the entire world here to pursue their dreams, whatever those dreams may be-because if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Which brings us to the reason why the DC team embarked on a month-long visit to our city: making it here with their global team to hang with the locals and emerge themselves in the NYC lifestyle, minus drinking 40-ounces of Old English in Washington Square Park.
Knowing that the Manhattan Bridge (Chinatown) skatepark had taken the place of Tompkins Square as the new hot spot to warm up before hitting street spots, DC took over two floors of a building directly across the street. Renovations went on for two weeks, transforming the place from a dirty, raw warehouse into a comfortable fully furnished living space with sleeping for fourteen, a plasma TV, Xbox 360, wireless Internet, fully stocked kitchen, indoor ledges, and laundering and cleaning service. The top floor of the building was gutted and transformed into an open loft space for parties hosted by DC. Whenever in the mood for pizza, they even had their own DC Pizzeria where they could chomp on a special DC slice that was said by some pizza experts, to be one of the best slices downtown.
The days of professional skateboarders visiting the city being rare is now long over, but to have an entire team practically moving into their own loft for a month has never happened and probably won’t for a long time. Colin McKay was seen rolling at the Banks almost on a daily basis. Ryan Smith was riding through the city on a BMX cruiser rehabilitating his recently operated knee. Josh Kalis was out on late-night missions, lighting up spots that he hadn’t skated in over ten years, all the while accompanied by young Sean Malto. Ryan Gallant was a welcomed fellow East Coaster frequenting NYC’s spots. Devine Calloway was also out in the dark skating the Manhattan Bridge skatepark after hours. Lindsey Robertson was destroying it and was almost killed by a 2 x 12 that fell from the Manhattan Bridge and landed by the manual pad in the skatepark. Greg Myers did more tricks on the kicker at the banks than any local could claim, banging out each one after the next. And it was those same projects where the kids came from every few weeks to rob skaters that the DC team now skated through to get to the Banks. The days of skater-hating here are long over.
The DC Australia team flew into join the crew and was stranded their first night ever being in NYC. Not having a contact number for anyone in the city, they only knew their man Kerry’s number from Australia. It took them almost all night to figure out how to dial internationally. They went straight to Times Square as anyone who comes to NYC for the first time would. After attempting to take a taxi down to the loft, they had to spend about 30 percent of their per diem on a hotel to sleep, until they could figure out how to dial their mate for instructions on how to get to the loft. They were right out front of the DC loft in the taxi, but from the street the place looked abandoned, so they were sure that it could not be the right place.
The crew from Canada came down for the shred fest as well, spending a few days in between two events that were taking place in Toronto and Montreal. This totaled about eighteen deep in a fifteen-passenger van on the few days when we actually had to drive to spots, but luckily you don’t really have to drive here.
Basically, the month consisted of pure skating, and it was refreshing to see a bunch of guys so motivated, feeding off one another, pushing their teamriders further and further each day. Nights consisted of Chinese food, beer, and loft parties with hundreds of people upstairs and the third floor designated as the VIP section with topless girls running around on occasion.
A welcome change from what usually happens when a skate team is in town was the lack of frequenting bars. Not one of the teamriders was spotted in Max Fish for the entire month except for one adventurous Australian. Everyone was quite pleased with their accommodations and hanging with each other, plus the few locals who became daily fixtures at the loft, like the legendary Black Man, a graffiti-writing BMX rider who met Lindsey and Jay at a local bike shop on Canal Street.
By the time the team felt like locals, it was time to leave NY. They had commented that this was the first time they had ever gotten used to being on tour and gotten to know the place they were visiting. The fact that most of the team came for the month and everyone stayed the entire time was in itself an amazing feat to say the least.
The morning the guys flew back home, I went to get the van to drive Team Manager Heath Brinkley to the airport. He was the last man on the ship as any honorable captain should be. Approaching the van, I saw auto glass littering the curbside and knew what that meant. A 30-pound cobblestone brick was thrown through the window and the stereo was ripped out. Maybe it was one of those project kids who used to rob skaters at the Banks in the 80s? Thanks to that crackhead thief who overlooked my 75-dollar Bluetooth hands-free, 300-dollar power inverter, and 50 dollars in cords and signs, all of which were in plain sight. I guess that was NYC’s way of saying thanks for coming, time to go home, but the guy from NYC can keep his stuff.

their teamriders further and further each day. Nights consisted of Chinese food, beer, and loft parties with hundreds of people upstairs and the third floor designated as the VIP section with topless girls running around on occasion.
A welcome change from what usually happens when a skate team is in town was the lack of frequenting bars. Not one of the teamriders was spotted in Max Fish for the entire month except for one adventurous Australian. Everyone was quite pleased with their accommodations and hanging with each other, plus the few locals who became daily fixtures at the loft, like the legendary Black Man, a graffiti-writing BMX rider who met Lindsey and Jay at a local bike shop on Canal Street.
By the time the team felt like locals, it was time to leave NY. They had commented that this was the first time they had ever gotten used to being on tour and gotten to know the place they were visiting. The fact that most of the team came for the month and everyone stayed the entire time was in itself an amazing feat to say the least.
The morning the guys flew back home, I went to get the van to drive Team Manager Heath Brinkley to the airport. He was the last man on the ship as any honorable captain should be. Approaching the van, I saw auto glass littering the curbside and knew what that meant. A 30-pound cobblestone brick was thrown through the window and the stereo was ripped out. Maybe it was one of those project kids who used to rob skaters at the Banks in the 80s? Thanks to that crackhead thief who overlooked my 75-dollar Bluetooth hands-free, 300-dollar power inverter, and 50 dollars in cords and signs, all of which were in plain sight. I guess that was NYC’s way of saying thanks for coming, time to go home, but the guy from NYC can keep his stuff.