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I’m not stupid; most “cool” people (musicians, athletes, politicians, celebrities, animals, children, etc.) hate journalists. People think that we will quote every single word they dribble out. It isn’t quite like that; we can quote every word they dribble out if we want or need to. But still, people don’t want to say a single word to us unless they’re trying to peddle their flavors-of-the-week by way of our story.
Today was international Go Skateboarding Day. Saki helped me pitch the story to our editor, and thankfully, he gave me the green light to cover it. So I make my way through the Bowery and Chinatown to the skatepark, which was located underneath the Manhattan Bridge. Keep in mind, when I woke up this morning, I thought I was just going to be sitting at my desk doing research for tomorrow’s story. That being said, I’m standing at the gates of this (absolutely freaking packed) skatepark in a bright pink Polo, Sperry Topsiders and a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers (thank god I chose jeans over khakis). I look like the exact visual interpretation of what these kids hate.
With this story, I was taking the angle of “These kids get harassed by cops all the time. How good does it feel to finally have a day where cops aren’t a problem?” I made my way to a few skaters and introduced myself in a completely ineffective manner:
“Hey man, I’m writing a story about Go Skateboarding Day for the Huffington Post, what’s it like to finally have a day to skate without being hassled by cops?”
After about 5 rejections, I figured out that it wasn’t going to work. I switched a few words around, and this worked a lot better…
“Hey man, have the cops ever f**ked with you when you’ve been skating? Tell me about what happened…”
That was the ticket. I dabbled in skating at one point in life and I am still friends with a lot of people who remain very tied-in to the KC skating community. I’ve sat at lunch tables and heard the way these guys would talk about their run-ins with the police. Getting a ticket or getting hassled by the cops almost gives you credibility within the skating world because everyone shares that widespread hatred for the pork and beef. A few of them asked me if an undercover cop — one even looked at the previous pages in my notebook to make sure I was actually a journalist — but once it was established that I wasn’t, they gave me a lot of good stories and information. I started heading back to the office, but the story was canned because there was no way we would make deadline. However, my day of field reporting will not go to waste. I’m going to spend a fair amount of time gathering the stories and testimonies of professional and amateur skaters to try and build this thing into a bigger feature. There’s an interesting angle here (which I’m not going to say, because I don’t want my stuff getting jacked) and I’m going to try hard to make this story happen sometime this summer. That’ll be my big one if it pans out.
Oh, and I shook hands with Compton Ass Terry today, who’s hands down the most bad-ass person I’ve met here. In case you aren’t familiar, enlighten yourself:
I’ve got some interviews tee’d up for the morning, and I feel comfortable promising another story going up tomorrow night. Keep your ears open.
All the best