Kool chica in London aka tongue in cheek fan bragging

Time to break the silence on this site with the breaking news. Yours truly has been skating with Tony Alva! Yes, OMG OMG OMG. Breathing in, and sharing  pics with you of Crazy Skate Lady’s week in London.

(Of course, when something actually is happening, my phone memory was full, and was not able to take much pictures.)

For at once, I was in a right place at the right time. My hopes having a quiet morning skate session at ‘Brixton Beach’ turned out to be a session to remember, as when arrived to Stockwell, there was a skate legend Tony Alva himself.  So, not only have I been pictured with Mr Alva, I’ve been skating with him – or at least this is how I like to see that session 😀

 

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Tony Alva and me at Stockwell skate park 21.11.2017

 

 

 

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Captured from skateboardmuseum’s Insta. Have a look on a next pic…

 

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Tony Alva called me Kool chica. I am seriously considering to take that to be my official name 😉

Tony Alva turned 60 earlier this autumn. To celebrate his birthday, and to showcase Alvas new skate film made with the filmmaker Mayol (Alex Baret), House of Vans threw a private party for London skaters and Vans Europe professional skaters. I was a lucky one to get my name on the guest list, thanks to Jürgen / Skateboard museum, who were skating with Alva on that Tuesday morning at Stockwell. What an amazing evening it was, especially for a skateboard newbie like myself. And the best bit of it all: Alva came to greet me with a hug, and we shared a few words about ‘our session’ on the other day. I must add I was very nervous and kind of lost my words. Before meeting Alva I only thought Skid Row or Nirvana is something that could make me shaky.

 

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With a shaky hands asked an autograph for this board I got
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House of Vans London
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Alva’s Q&A

 

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Here’s a link to Sidewalk Skatemagazine’s interview of Alva and notions of a younger skater about the evening:

https://sidewalkmag.com/features/tony-alva-interview-house-vans.html#e8qch3fzeC1iI783.97

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Taking the tongue out of cheek, meeting such a legend really gave motivation to keep continuing my attempts on a skateboard. It is not about the age or skills, it is all about having a good time. And those moments skateboarding has already given me plenty.

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A few other pics from my stay in London:

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It wasn’t skateboarding that took me to London, but this furry Londoner needing a cat-sitter
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Tero Juuti tattooed my knuckles for his Tattoo Dictionary project (it is ball point pen ink)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geometry of Motion: Raphaël Zarka and skateable sculptures

Last weekend the BPS22 Musée d’art de la Province de Haunaut in Charleroi, Belgium opened up Raphaël Zarka’s exhibition Riding Modern Art. The exhibition consists of skateable sculptures and photos of various photographers capturing skateboarders skating on different sculptures all over the world, as well as few videos and maquettes of sculptures.

I missed the opening night to see how skateboarders rode on those scuptures. That’s a shame as one of the  Zarka’s ideas behind the sculptures is, how skateboarders ‘shape’ space in a way which can be seen similar of how sculptor works. At the moment when I visited the museum, on a day following the opening, dude and I were the only visitors. I knew already it would be way out of my skills ever to be able to even just ride down any of these sculptures. Nevertheless, I took a board with me, as  I thought it would be re-freshing to experience an art show from different points of view: from the board.

 

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Raphaël Zarka (b.1977) is a French artist who in his practise has been combining art and skateboarding in a different medium: he has written skateboarding encyclopedia On a Day With no Waves, A Cronicle of Skateboarding 1779-2009 and an essay form book Free Ride. Skateboard, mécanique galiéenne et formes simples, in which he looks at how skate obstacles and sculptures share similarities; he has curated a photo series Riding Modern Art collecting together skate photograhps of (well known) sculptures all over the world whilst skaters are skating on them.

In BPS22 exhibited are skateable objects which with their shape and form are close of minimalist sculptures. According to Zarka minimalism (an art style having it’s peak times in 1960’s and early 70’s, characterized by an abstract (often basic) forms, and the potentiality of material itself) is close of the logic of skateboarding: minimalism cares about space and experience. In minimalism sculptures are not only meant to be looked at with your eyes, but to experience with the whole body.  (look more: http://www.soloskatemag.com/raphael-zarka-about-skating-sculptures) Works seen in Charleroi are based on his interest of 19th century mathematician Arthur Moritz Schoenflies, and his three dimensional models. Zarka reconstructed them, and not just to be ‘passive’ forms, but to find out how those shapes would work for skateboarding.

The following video introducing Zarka’s spatial thinking and its connection to skateboarding is also screened in BPS22.

 

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Before this exhibition Zarka was familiar name for me through his publications. After experiencing an atypical indoor skate park inside of the museum I am convinced of to spend more time with my germinating idea of how I could use skateboarding as a part of my practise – if I have not yet mentioned this, yours sincerely Crazy Skate Lady is an artist-researcher by profession.

 

 

 

Delayed post card from Finland

Oops the whole May went without any posts here (my apologies). I also try to forgive myself didn’t skate that much during the whole month. I was in my home country Finland, and it just was very hectic with seeing friends, family, working – and also the weather was very, very bad, even for Finnish spring: it was sleeting in mid May when arrived to Helsinki.

But when I did skate (that was once), it was with a style. This was my kit when heading to skate in the Vuosaari skate park in eastern Helsinki. It was also meeting up with a friend who had turned 40 whilst I’ve been away, and with whom had not yet celebrated my doctoral status.

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The session itself was not that great. Actually, was quite frustrated as last summer on the same spot was much better, but nevertheless it was super-nice to spend time with my friend, and also when it was getting dark-ish (I remind you, despite of cold spring, I was in a country of ‘nightless nights’) to hear birds, chat with some local skateboarders (I admired his skateboarding skills, he my job), to be worrying in a giddily way, if we’ll catch the last metro back to centre, and finally when there, to have some after midnight junk food before heading to my temporary home.

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I also got some souvenir for myself to decorate my cat board. This sticker for Finnish skateboard brand Tikari is done by Katri Sipilä, a Finnish artist doing fab paintings, comic books, tattoos, skateboarding, designs skateboards.

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And here is a souvenir for you. Finland is full of nice spots (erm, not necessarily legal to skate…), in summer there is LOT of light to skate all night long. So go skate there, go (just select carefully the time of the year) for your visit!

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(ps. the sign says skateboarding is not allowed on terrace area.)

 

 

 

 

 

Turnhout joys and pebbles

It feels like a looong time since I was in London, because the environment where I am at the moment, is so very different from the hectic city. I am doing a short-term artist residency programme in a small village in Belgium. Work takes most of my time, but managed to sneak out, and skate a bit in a Turnhout skatepark a few days ago.

The start wasn’t promising. I was very tired (this changing a place (too) often and working in a new place etc. is taking its toll) and was struggling again with the fear. Finally started to try out new things, and started to feel more comfortable, so rode in quite a good speed, as can be seen in this video.

 

More than conquering a new spot, I am happy of taking first steps with new tricks. These are:

  • footplant on flat / boneless (see here what it means: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrDJlw6r5GI) – I have trouble even putting my front foot down from the board, as so far it’s ALWAYS been only BACK foot on the ground
  • Old school carving (something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NSKhWcZPRo) – I just need to learn to carve ‘sharply’ first….
  • to ‘jump’ when hitting the edge, honestly it does not look like it, but in the video when getting up the bank, I am doing it: at least in my head 🙂

Dear reader, I promise you, by the end of the summer, I will nail (or at least somehow manage) those!

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During the skate session happened something I thought to open up, even though it is not really a big deal, but can’t believe it would happen if a) I would be a man b) I would be younger – and it does bother me a little; and similar things happens time to time (also when I am running). I was skating with my boyfriend, who was having a break and was sitting on the edges of the park, when a man (not skater himself) passing by with a dog joined him. Afterwards heard the man was commenting my skateboarding – and this is a bit that disturbs me. I do not mind advices , and I know part of the skateboarding is to be watched by others, but would he had done the same, if it would have been the opposite way: my boyfriend (well, a ‘real’ skater, but not a young one) skating and me sitting on the edges, and then to comment to me how he skates? I doubt that. And it annoyed me more than the pebble on the ground that made me fall off.

 

 

“Why I learned to skateboard in my 40’s”

 

Two weeks ago when was in London, was interviewed by Huffington Post UK (!), and here’s the result!

Oddly enough during the session, I was more nervous to talk (normally I am pretty talkative) than to skateboard. I was first struggling to give an answer to the question “has skateboarding changed my life?”, as it felt somehow too big to say, yes it has changed my life.  But now when I watch this video clip, I realize it is the only right answer to give. I could be critical of grammar mistakes I made, poor this and that, snotty nose…. But, no I am not. I am effing proud of myself.

 

Surfing on Brixton Beach

Hello from London! A city where I used to spend a lot of time and where I did my doctoral studies, but that was before I picked up skateboarding, so this time it is like exploring the whole new city.

And so far it has been fab! I am staying in South East London with an easy acces to Brixton and Stockwell skate park. I have now had four sessions there, and it has a place in my top three (or at leat five) skateparks I’ve been skating.

Stockwell, or Brixton Beach (opened in 1978) as it is also called, is perfect for surfing and for old school tricks – excatly the ones I was swearing to learn this year. Actually, in Stockwell I see skaters doing them. The skatepark with it’s undulating design is inviting for those moves. Also, it seems there are some ‘older’ skaters around familiar with the old skool style. It is clear I am in London, and the diversity of people living here can also be seen on skatepark.

Yesterday I actually had a short introduction for the old school turn  (thank you, you nice person showing me after I asked) – I don’t know the real name – the one where you put your back hand down, ‘front’ hand grabs the board, and you’re supposed to drag your back feet back so that you kind of do the 180 degree turn. To be honest, the only clue I got about it, is that I have to be very fast. Will definitetly practise that, maybe just in bit more calmer park.

Skateboarding really is a state of mind. As I wrote in earlier posts, I have been struggling with the fear issue recently. This week in London fear seems to be mostly away. I must say, it did take some courage to enter into the crowded Stockwell park. I also got bit intimidated on my first day when was told off from corner bit, as it “too dangerous”. I am not sure was that said for my safety, for other skaters safety, or just to scare me off, as I am slow and thus probably annoying (following carefully the rules, waiting my turn and looking what others do). But I didn’t go anywhere, and went back – and last Friday was the best skate sessions since last summer. Somehow all just went together, and felt very comfortable. It probably didn’t look much different than usual, but for the first time I felt like a skateboarder.  I found the flow, my space amongst others in the park – and just rode corners, lines, managed to kick turn (on mild bank).

If this feeling stays, I will try and ride down the steep bank in Stockwell. Just like all other skateboarders.

 

Hello fear my old friend, I’ve come to talk about that again

Pretty active skateboarding week behind. Still struggling with fear issues. A week ago, on Friday night had a very nice skate session in a small pool near to where I live. It is a bit too difficult for my skills, but I still did quite well.  I started this week going there on Monday evening, but it just didn’t feel good – and left the place pretty soon.

On Tuesday evening dude and I drove to Antwerpen to my ‘comfort zone’ skatepark Antwerpen Spoor Noord. Again, it just didn’t feel good. Felt nervous, and needed a lot of courage even in my comfort zone small bowl, that I usually enjoy riding. Didn’t even feel going to bigger bowl, even thought been pretty okay there some other times. Dude suggested some other park that was new for me, and luckily we went there. First, it was a struggle, and didn’t feel comfortable, but bit by bit felt better, and it in the end it was okay, and could have stayed longer, but it was too late. (This usually happens, it takes time to warm up, but then I am reluctant to leave and go on loooong.)

I decided will not give up nor let the less-nice sessions to get on my way. Thought to have a change for my routines – which has mostly been riding on the corners in a bowl / pool – by focusing on other stuff: mostly on kick-turns, pushing & balance, as well as being more comfortable with speed. There’s a nice not too steep hill near Antwerpen Noord park, and have now couple of times tried down hill there. This Monday too. Still too scared to go all the way down. I know I can, it is  just that old friend fear kicking in, and preventing the full ride. I’ll promise by the end of the summer, I will ride that hill down like a pro!

Twice this week I started my days going on a mini ramp to work on kick-turns. I went back and forth pretty high and turned okay on the low part of the ramp. Still a lot of work to do with kick-turns and pump the speed up –  and of course to have courage to ‘swing’ higher and faster.

(here’s a clip for this week’s morning session https://wordpress.com/post/crazyskatelady.com/456)

By the end of the week, the weather got wet again, so there were couple of days no skateboarding. I was still busy on my free time with it by creating own Facebook page for Crazy Skate Lady (please like and follow me on Facebook too!) and watching some skate videos. On Monday I already sworn I will stop watching them all together, as my skating doesn’t relate to any of them, and makes me just more annoyed by how crap I am. Yes I know, not mature attitude. I am sure though all of you who skateboard, do know that frustrating feeling when you just want to throw your board as far as you can…for Finnish readers I can say it feels like wanting to put the board ‘tuhannen p*****n päreiksi’… Anyway, there were a skate video that did motivate me. Look here how this 40 years old beginner have learned to nail many tricks by training hard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14-sOzwJgD  

That video made me want to try ollie. Something I have not really done before, expect of some odd tries once in a while. I think last time was last summer.

So this morning (Sunday) I woke up thinking of ollies. Dude too wanted to skate, and despite of drizzling rain, we tried to find a dry spot to skate. First try was a mini ramp on Vilvoorde under the bridge. It was damp. I learned now first time in practise what it means when surface is wet: dude fell and I slipped, so it was time to continue the hunt of the dry spot. I must say before slipping, I did pretty okay kick-turns, so something is happening – and I am motivated to practice to get better with that.

We didn’t have luck with a car park, where we managed to skate few weeks ago, when the weather was wet. It was full of cars today.

Finally, on the way back home there was a dry spot under some bridge. Rough surface with pebbles and garbage, still possible to do something. And I did: ollies! Few of them were like almost okay 🙂  Dude was holding hands, and balance sucks – still did something new. In your face, fear!

You must believe my words with the ollies. For some reason, the camera didn’t work. As they say: you can’t have everything.

The video above is filmed on mid February when I am first time on new cat board. Feeling good and comfy on that day.

Below Skatepark Stadspark after I had started to warm up – finally. (warning includes not happy being filmed comments 😀 )

 

And here some tic tac attempts from couple of weeks ago on rainy day in car park.

Screaming and skateboarding

Weather in last week, as well as the weather forecast for this upcoming week, has not allowed skateboarding, neither have I had a chance to go to any indoor skate park.

Whilst waiting weather to be more suitable for skateboarding, and to have fresh skate stories to tell, here’s one I published about one month ago on my Facebook wall:

“There has been a couple of months break since I’ve been in one of my favourite skateboarding spots (Antwerpen Park Spoor Noord). It all started well. I was able to do all I had learned to do there. Even better, was faster in corners than ever before. All was perfect until  I needed to do a pee (I do not want to give too much information, just saying there’s toilet facilities for boys, but not for girls). After a break I tried another corner, which I have tried before, not very well, but at least somehow. Now I couldn’t do nothing there, it felt too scary.

Unfortunately, that fear stayed with me. I was not able to do what I had done 10 minutes before thinking :”Superfun, this is my favourite place in Belgium.” I was too scared to go down from the bank. Some primary fear hit the brains again and again, forcing me to jump off from the board. I felt like crying, was p****d off, felt like a looser whilst slowly pushing on flat outside of the bowl. Finally sisu (a Finnish term meaning something like stamina. You should google it, veru useful when skateboarding) grew big enough,  and I went back to the smaller bowl, which is in my comfort zone – if that’s a term I can use about me and skateboarding. All went well there, and got courage to go back to the scary bank where the fear had hit me.  And it still did; the primary fear just came back immediately when speed got faster and I jumped off. Untill I discoverd: when fear hits, instead of jumping off from the board, I will scream. After a while screaming and skating, the fear went off, and all was fine again.

Now being safely in my bed,  I am thinking why am I, who has always been a wuss & scared of everything in my 40’s, still want to skateboard…

It is good to face your fear and even better to win it. Tomorrow again if weather allows.”

 

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Some days after the above text was published enjoying much less scary wooden bowl.

 

 

 

This is why skatelady is crazy aka glimpse to my Monday

I work as a freelancer, and to a certain limit, I can fix my own schedules. I worked on Saturday, Sunday was too wet to skate, so I decided Monday morning would be my perfect skating time – miniramp would likely to be empty at that time, and skateboarding would give an energetic start for the new week.

A day started grey, pavements were wet, but the weather forecast said cloudy, not rain. Optimistically, I put the skateboard on the back of my bicycle, and headed off to Vilvoorde. It is a small city just next to Brussels, only about 11 kilometres from where I live. There’s a miniramp under the bridge – that I thought would be wide enough to have kept the miniramp dry. So had I seen it before. Raining, but still nice clean and dry miniramp.

Just when left home, it started to drizzle. Ignored it, and just kept going. After all, there’s a big bridge covering the ramp. Had a tiny worry will the rain be bad for my lovely new cat board. Of course had not covered it, cause it did not rain when left the house…

Got to Vilvoorde. Took even a happy selfie and sent it to dude, to show off how brisk I am: out and about on Monday morning. Then the reality hit: wind blew drizzling rain to every direction and to everywhere, and the miniramp was all wet. Not on selfie mood anymore. Also, cat skateboard was bit damp!

I got obsessed to keep it dry, so started the hunt for a plastic bag, which turned out to be a mission. I was in an industrial area, no usual supermarkets around. First stop was some kind of electrical equipment shop. I can assure you, I looked very different that all the other customers. They were all workmen in their work clothes, and well, I was me: wet hoodie and leggings, wearing helmet, carrying the cat skate board, nose dripping (after all, I had been cycling in the rain quite a while already). Queue were too long,  lost patience, so it was time for stop two: shop for tiles and likes. Very nicely dressed and nice lady advised: “We are not actually a shop for plastic bags.” I got lucky on a third shop (for office supplies) after the language barrier – Dutch/French/English – was sorted out.

Then only needed to head back to Brussels, and for that direction wind was against me.

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It didn’t go much better on Sunday. On my way to see if miniramp in my neighbourhood would have been dry, happened this scandalious incident: dog poop on cat board.

Hello world of blogging

 

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New skateboard* and time for this crazy cat lady to transform herself into the crazy skate lady, and to move my skate stories from skate parks and streets also into the world of blogging.

I have been skating now bit more than 1,5 years. Starting when 40, being afraid of heights and speed keeps me probably always on a level of a beginner. At least for the outside world (and for me too if I happen to watch a video of my skate sessions!). Still I feel I have learned so much, not only about skating, but also how to face my fears, to be comfortable outside of my usual comfort zone. I have met wonderful new people I would unlikely have never met otherwise (including my boyfriend, who’s known as a dude in my writings). I have visited tons of new places in a search of good skate spot. With skateboarder’s eyes I have seen familiar spaces in a new light.

All those mentioned above will be the content of Crazy Skate Lady blog. Surely I will write about other things too. The style of my writing is very personal, so it is inevitably this blog will gather bits and pieces from other parts of my life as well. Actually I am already looking forward to write about how I think dance, running and skateboarding (all three being my passions) have a lot in common. And if skateboarding is a lifestyle, so can be said about  my job (I am a visual artist). And I lead pretty nomad life carrying a skate along, so…

It comes without saying a woman in her 40’s  on a skateboard is quite rare creature. My point of view for many of my posts will come from that fact. It is not that I necessarily like it to be so, on the contrary: I wish this blog reveals some of the presumptions such as  ‘who can skate’ or  ‘what skateboarding is’ or ‘what is suitable for a grown up (woman) to do’.

I have learned that most of the skateboarders give you respect, if you just keep trying &  doing something you enjoy – no matter of your skills or age. I think that is something to respect of.

* new for me, pimped from dude’s old one, more about that in next post.