Willy Akers and the Newark Crew

September 4, 2012

My son, Utah,  never skated the Portland, ME skatepark before last Saturday.  We had done a bunch of shopping that day.  He got fitted for a tuxedo since he’s the ring bearer in my brother-in-law’s wedding.  There were random other stops.  The day was hot and time seemed to stretch out.

When we got to the park he looked over and saw all the skaters and he said something about how crowded it was.  I told him most of the time it just looks more packed than it is.  There are lots of lurkers.

That worked and he rolled away at high speed while I tied my shoes.

The vibe was slightly off, but cool.  There were a lot of folks skating, skating really fast.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Good skaters are easy to ride with.  They pretty much don’t get in your way and they don’t stress.

Some guy saw the Scarecrow sticker on my helmet and called me out on it.  (Thanks, Jim Gray.)  Then, slowly I started noticing that they all knew each other.  There were these hectic near collisions.  I tried to keep Utah focused on the bowl where he could get runs in.

Utah tried skating the street section, but he kept getting confused because skaters would shoot over from the left or drop in from the deck of the bowl.  Being new to the place, Utah worked to find his groove.

Someone told me there were 15 of them in a 15 seat van, just up for a Labor Day weekend roadtrip.

There was one guy with a scruffy beard who looked familiar.  I introduced myself.  It was Willy Akers.  We tried to figure out where I’d seen him before.  We’re both from Northern Delaware.  I’d skated the park his dad built in Newport.  I never quite figured it out.  I still haven’t.

Meanwhile, Utah had been bugging me to watch him skate.  I’d tried, but there was a lot of effortless skating to take in.  I was in the street area and between runs I looked over to the bowl to see Utah, but he wasn’t there.  I saw him coming out of the bowl way too slowly.  Quickly, I skated over that way.

Utah’s head was covered in blood.  I grabbed all his stuff: helmet, glasses, skate.  I tried to be calm.  He is my son.  Seeing him that way is totally upsetting.

A couple of the skaters I’d been talking to said what you say when it isn’t your son.  “Hey buddy, you’re gonna be fine.”

Utah cut his forehead and bled out like it was all that he could do, but we cleaned it up good and you can’t hardly see the scar.  This upsets Utah, because he wants the scar, instinctively knowing that when you skate, sooner or later you give blood.  Later, you wear that scar as a badge of honor.

Here’s Willy’s part from the 5 Boro video.


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