I consider Kenny Reed one of my best friends, but some of the things he comes up with I don’t even think his mom would understand. We happened to be in Poland for Fourth of July. Now, when I left the States, I didn’t even think of celebrating Independence Day. Kenny, on the other hand, planned ahead and brought enough sparklers for all of Poland to celebrate. That’s a normal thing to do, right?

On the afternoon of the fourth, I walked into his hotel room to hear the water running in his bathroom. Of course, the first thing I thought was he was probably just brushing his teeth. Oh dude, was I wrong! There he stood in front of the mirror, his shirt off, and shaving cream in both armpits.

“What the f-k are you doing, Kenny?” I asked.

“What, dude? I’m shaving my armpits,” he replied.

“What for?” I asked.

“Every Fourth of July at 2:00 p.m., I shave my armpits,” he replied. “It’s a ritual.”

There has to be a reason why he does this every Fourth of July at 2:00 p.m., but I knew chances are he wouldn’t tell me, so I didn’t bother to ask. It’s probably just to, “Keep the kids guessing.”-The Dude

Poland is a beautiful country with plenty of diverse skate spots and not many security guards to kick you out, which was the best thing about the trip. The only thing was I felt uncomfortable the entire time we were there. Poland went through so much during the war, WW II, and so many horrific incidents happened there, that it still had a terrible aura for me. But over all, the trip was fun and well worth it.-Chad Bartie

Auschwitz
Originally, we’d planned to visit the concentration camps early in the trip, but plans always change, so we ended up getting to Auschwitz during the last three days of the tour. The camps were about four hours south of where we were staying in Warsaw, and it took a little time to find them. It seemed as though the people who live in the area try not to think about what occurred there some 60 years ago. The street signs are unclear and almost nonexistent. I suppose if we’d been looking for Six Flags or Magic Mountain things might’ve been different.

When we got out of the car at Auschwitz 1, it was very hot. Parking-lot attendants ushered us to the next spot in line, and we headed to a museum. Much of Auschwitz 1 was remodeled to take on the traditional museum look: glass windows, roped-off areas, and displays with old photos. There were tours you could sign up for, various artifacts pertaining to the Holocaust, and short videos about how it all went down.

It was all done in good taste; it wasn’t commercialized or sensationalized, but left something to be said for the sheer rawness and significance of what had occurred so many years ago on the exact spot we were standing.

Then we went about a mile up the road to Auschwitz 2, also known as Burkenau. Here was a completely different story. This is where many scenes from Spielberg’s Schindler’s List were shot. And for authenticity purposes, I can see why. The camp was not only raw in every sense of the word, but also massive.

When the Russians liberated Poland at the end of World War II, the camp, along with the two crematories that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, were burned to get rid of the evidence. So half the camp was a seemingly unending and unattended field of brick chimneys, each representing a bunker smaller than a basketball court, where 700 prisoners were kept. Anyone could enter these bunkers; there were no ropes, glass windows, or anything to preserve them.

The other half of the camp remained intact. Burkenau was literally in the same state as the day the war ended. This was the most disturbing place I’ve ever been to. We were there for a few hours, but I wanted to leave after the first 45 minutes. It was just too much. The scale of these people’s suffering was incomprehensible. It left us all with a profound feeling of disbelief andd numbness that carried on into sleep that night.

Seeing documentaries on TV or in a movie does the Holocaust absolutely no justice. Everyone should see this place sometime in their life. It’s beyond any sort of rational understanding.-Pete Thompson

Skating with the New Deal team in Poland was fun because I was with my friends. But I had a hard time with the people there. They looked at me like I was an alien. And sometimes I thought they wanted to hit me for no reason. Besides that, there’re plenty of good spots for skateboarding. Overall, though, I did not like Poland.-Fabrizio Santos

Poland rips! If you have a chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Make sure whoever comes with you likes to skate marble ledges. It wouldn’t hurt to like pretty girls, either; they have a lot of both. When you visit Warsaw, just cruise into the local skate shop DSK. Cooba (Jacob) will give you an Iraqi-ass map of all the gnarliest spots. Oh yea! And don’t forget, Tuesday’s ladies’ night.-Ryan Johnson

Upon our arrival in Poland, we checked into our hotel, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Warsaw. After seeing a lot of skate spots and all kinds of beautiful women on the way from the airport, we were anxious to get on the streets to check out what Warsaw had to offer. We got situated and went downstairs to the lobby before exploring the city.

Downstairs a woman in a business suit was staring at us-Pete and I though she was feeling one of us in the crew. She ended up coming over to us and introducing herself: Agneszka (Agnes for short) said she’s 35 years old and the public-services representative for the hotel. She gave us the rundown about what we should do while we’re in Poland, as well as the names and addresses of all the worthwhile nightclubs. We thanked her, and she gave us her card and told us to call her if we needed anything. Maps, directions, girls, whatever-she put a very strong emphasis on anything. So jokingly, I asked her if she could hook up some trees for Ryan and I. Surprisingly she said yes and told us she’d have them the next day. We were tripping out. The public relations and services representative of a major hotel chain is hooking us up with trees.

From that point on, she was the newest member of our tour. Almost every night after she got off work, she’d take all the single members of our crew out for a night on the town. She’d get everybody into the club for free and introduce us to hella girls once inside. Even though she claimed she was married, she was with a different dude every night-she was wild. She even tried to take advantage of a few of the crew members at different times during our stay. Who would have ever thought this woman in a business suit would be such a rager?

Agneszka was cool-she made nicknames up for everybody. Kenny was “Little Man,” Pete was “Tattoo,” Ricki B. was “The Whitest One,” and I was “Smokey.” She definitely showed us a good time in Warsaw. Thank you, Agneszka.-Rob Gonzalez