Back to the Banks 2008 & A Few Days in NYC

Posted on Sunday, August 17, 2008 by Ryan

Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

My Nikon D200's 5 frames a second is not fast enough to properly catch this 360 flip, even when it's big and slow on this giant popsicle stick
It's hard to shoot photos at this event. Seems like there's very few tricks being made due to how hard stuff is to skate and it's total jam chaos. I came in on the tail end of Collin Provost's bluntslide
Figgy came out of nowhere and threw down a few. I think this kickflip noseslide was the only flip in happening on this beast
My grandma just called me crying. That means there's a hurricane headed straight for Tampa. Real convenient since it's blowing in on the day we are supposed to come home. Everyone do an anti-rain dance please. Figgy's got a real hurricane for you here
Who dat? It's a fakie stale fish grab. For what seemed like miles and miles, the biggest skate session in the world was going on everywhere at the Banks
Barak joined us on this trip to participate in the sketchy skateboard industry bid'niss affairs
They got some crusty stuff laying around the Banks area. I guess it's okay to build stuff there. I spy banana pants. What do you do when your girl rolls out in those? "Uh, babe, can you peel off the banana pants and put some other fruit on? Thanks"
That's Dustin Charlton doing a switch tail drop in front of about one fourth of the huge crowd that day
Willy Akers is one of the most entertaining people to watch skate
That's no garbage in that garbage bag Darin from Deluxe has. He's doing an undercover product toss from that thing. I spy an ATM with a BTM
The current unofficial world record ollie holder is Lois Tolentino here. We need to have an event and make that official. This dude can hop
As crazy as Willy Akers' folded ankle looks right here, apparently it's not broken. My ankle hurts just looking at this photo
They took last year's barrier obstacle and made it a little more mellow. It was still hard to skate and seemed that not much went down on it. That's Chad Fernandez - love them meron grabs
I spy Carlton and Lorena Lima throwin' a holla @ a sk8r
Alright, enough with the hurricanes. Chad Fernandez is going to jinx us in Tampa with this hurricane on the rail
Jay Maldonado in the foreground got a way better shot of Robert Lopez-Mont's lipslide. Jay used to be the Team Manager at eS, but he's working on his own now
Another one of my favorites, Matt Beach. I spy Buckwheat
I have to check my grandma's Star Magazine to see which Hollywood star Steve Berra is currently hanging out with
There are so many fun little things like this here. These are right next to the Brooklyn Banks
That's the Brooklyn Bridge that the banks are under. Looks like I just walked up on the tail end of a car fire. Remember the last car fire at SPoT?
Let's take a break from all this out of town-ness and check out Tampa. Here's a downtown update. They ripped all the trees out of Trip Park and the new Art Museum is coming along. I miss Tampa
Okay, back to NYC where Alanna has taken us to the restaurant next to the local cool guy bar, Max Fish
The restaurant is called the Pink Pony. In Tampa, the Pink Pony is a super crusty strip bar off Dale Mabry
When you start seeing fixed gear bikes, you're near Max Fish. Fixed gear is the new tight pants
Here's the scene at Max Fish. Have a drink, start throwing high fives or pounds depending on what coast you're from, and make some new friends
I don't think anyone in NYC pays attention to the Don't Honk sign
Porpe turned the big 24 at midnight on Friday. A few shots were in order
Some random artwork on the walls of Max Fish. Homosexuality is the new tight pants. Wait, tight pants have always been that, right? It's so hard to keep up with what's cool
Frosty's here! Shortly after this, Jenna had to walk him back to the hotel because he passed out at the bar. Go easy on the sauce
Get off your ass, get on a plane. Bristol did. Now he's here in NYC with us making new friends like Bobby Worrest here. He seems to be a local
The super nerd in me was hyped on RB Umali's calculator watch
Clem, Nikky, and Barak have been rolling on four wheels in Tampa since cassette tapes were high tech
There's a Skatepark of Tampa Party Team member in every city. This time it's Pat Duffy
New York has the same paranoid and uptight rules as California when it comes to smoking. I haven't been smoking much lately, but when you're in a bar that has a no smoking rule, it just makes me want to create a smoking section in there just because. Don't be afraid to light up inside. Either no one says anything or you get a very polite request to put it out if you act dumb
We met Jasmine here at Hooters in Tampa about a year ago. Porpe hung out with her for a hot minute but then made the mistake of going back to this chick. Jasmine now lives in NYC so she met up with us at Max Fish. Unfortunately, she's juggling mad dudes like a female pimp so Porpe's over it. Oh well, they can't all be nice girls
Street food is always amazing at 3am while you're out of your mind. Bristol made friends with a few orientals while we were chowing down
This hotel we are in has the most deluxe bathroom I've ever been in. The shower is also a sauna. See that hanging there? Barak has a Globe bathroom bag with his name embroidered into it. Those are some of the perks of being an influential buyer in the sketchy skateboard industry. Pardon me, I'm pooping right now
Jenna's $eriou$ costume jewelry goes great with the $15 cocktails at this classy hotel
We are now lost in Little Italy looking for the perfect slice of pizza. You don't have to go far. This is a regular street with cars running through honking. Pedestrians don't give a fuh
We made it to the Last of the Mohicans premiere at some random disco type place. Joe Perrin made another damn good one. That's Joe with Pat Stiener, new resident of NYC
The disco started up right after the video finished. I spy Josh Stewart and Kenny Anderson. Let's boogie
You can find some weird stuff on the streets of NYC. Looks like Online Guy got dismembered and left for dead
Our friends at Red Bull were nice enough to invite us to dinner at some place where you cook your own food in the middle of the table. We got the boot from the wheelie contest today, but they sure are taking care of us on the nightlife. Thanks!
It's Porpe's birthday celebration for the second night in a row. He think's he'll get gold stars if he wears the same shirt as Boss Clem or maybe it will make up for sleeping at his desk. I spy one of my favorite skateboarders
We are way overdue for a foot fetish. This is outside the restaurant where some dude showed up with the beefiest bulldog I've ever seen
Okay, this same shirt monkey business needs to stop. Earlier this week, Barak and I had that problem while we were in the mall of all places. And, to top that off, we were both dork status carrying around the boxes to our new iPhones. Today Clem and Barak have the same gear on. We need to start calling each other before getting dressed
Here's another random spot we ran into. Extra rough but Clem still has a few moves on it
NYC makes me think back to my younger, more-patriotic days. I’m a big fan of the good ol’ USA and it makes me feel like one proud American when I’m rolling around the streets of NYC. And I can’t help but think of went down on 9/11 whenever I’m here in the City. That was a crazy time for our country and we all soon forget what we’ve been through. I could go on a tangent right here, but let me drive this article right back towards skateboarding…

Rolling Around & Hanging Out in NYC
Sure, I have a cruiser board and roll around Ybor on the regular, but it’s just not the same. In NYC the streets just go on and on and on. As soon as you’re out of one neighborhood, you’re into the next. The streets go from rough to smooth to the roughest, grittiest cement that you’ve ever rolled across.

When you skate to a bar or restaurant, it’s not abnormal or weird to be a grown-ass man and stroll in with your skateboard. No one says a word or even looks at you funny. But if you are stopping to eat or drink, be sure to bring a lot of cash or hit up the ATM daily because many of them accept only cash. You will definitely run into a lot of random skateboarders at the bar, too. The first night at Max Fish (skater-bar on the Lower East Side near where we’re staying) I saw Casey Rigney and Daniel Haney out front. It must have been an Arcade reunion. I heard that John Cardiel was there the previous night, too.

The energy in NYC is different, or rather; I feel more energy in NYC than I do during the most exciting night in Ybor. It was 2am before I knew it and I was wide awake and having to force myself to go to sleep, but the people walking below on Rivington St. were just getting the party started…

Back to the Banks
The concept is pretty simple, but let me give you what little background I know: The Brooklyn Banks are actually on the Manhattan side of NYC, but are located under the Brooklyn Bridge. Like I said, I don’t know too much about the Banks, but they’ve been skated for decades. In more recent time, they were set to be demolished, but Steve Rodriguez went to the City and explained to them that the Banks are actually already being used as a skate park, so they might as well keep them. To make what is probably a really long story short, they kept the Banks, added some obstacles, and turned the place into an official skate park. Not a bad idea…should have done that with the area around the Bro Bowl before the City of Tampa destroyed it, don’t you think?

BTTB has been going on for a few years now, but this was only my second time attending. I’m going to do my best to explain it to you, but let’s just say that the energy of the nightlife spills right into the daytime skateboarding. There must have been 2000 kids rolling around the Banks at any given moment. There is no registration, no formal announcements, or too much structure to the event at all. Normally, something run so loosely would drive me nuts, but it’s just so perfect for BTTB and NYC itself. Let’s not forget the lack of restroom facilities, food, water, or anything else you might need to survive. You’re on your own at the Banks. Deal with it. And be sure not fall on some broken glass or sit in piss. If any parent that complains about how dirty Skatepark of Tampa is again, I’m sending them to the Banks.

The Contest itself is even more raw…and open to anyone. That can be both a good and bad thing. Which means that any random kook can start skating with the illest pros and top ams. And since Steve R. decides to use only a megaphone as opposed to a microphone, it’s a bit tough to regulate on the dudes that need to step off. All for the better though because those types of guys provide some damn good entertainment.

The bottom line is this: Back to the Banks is an event that feels like skateboarding should feel, so hats off to a true American, Steve Rodriguez from 5Boro, for stressing out and doing the generally thankless job of running a skateboarding event. It’s one of those raw deals…feeling like real skateboarding. So thanks, Steve.

The Contest was broken down into four different sections: Bank-to-wall, bank-to-ledge, tranny-spine, and stairs/rail. As I mentioned previously, it was completely open and anyone could skate. I don’t know how long each jam went, but they took the top five rippers and then let them skate in a final jam on each obstacle, too. Here are the winners:
  • Bank-to-wall
    • 1st – $2000 – Jimmy MacDonald – I wish I could tell you what went down, but I was on the other side of the park and didn’t realize that the jam was happening
    • 2nd – Dustin Charleton – and no, he didn’t get smashed in the head with a toilet
    • 3rd – Robert Lopez Mont
    • 4th – Willy Akers – I love this dude. He’s working on his college degree and living the life
  • Bank-to-ledge – this obstacle was HUGE, so pretty much anything on it was sick
    • 1st – $2000 – Justin “Figgy” Figueroa – a bs tailslide and kf noseslide are no joke
    • 2nd – Colin Provost
    • 3rd – Aaron Suski – I saw him fs 5-0 and smith it
    • 4th – Willy Akers – sketchy fs noseblunt…had he done it well he could have taken it
    • 5th – Mike Emery – I might have this one wrong because these names were all called out over a megaphone, not printed anywhere that I saw
  • Tranny-spine – I literally couldn’t see at all…and I was right next to this one security guard that was being so lame to kids that I left before I said anything to him and got my ass kicked
    • 1st – $2000 – Dylan James
    • 2nd – $500 – Chad Fernandez – he took his five, $100 bills and threw them into the crowd. Does Chad even have any sponsors? I would figure he needed the five bills
    • 3rd – Jimmy MacDonald – 5boro’s finest
    • 4th – Brown t-shirt guy – for real…that’s how they announced this kid. Love it
    • 5th – Justin “Figgy” Figueroa
  • Stairs/rail – the run-up is jacked and this thing is straight-up hard to skate
    • 1st – $2000 – Davis Torgerson – the crowd went completely nuts when he did a nollie heelflip right over the rail
    • 2nd – Doogie – this kid did a fs 360 ollie over the rail
    • 3rd – Black t-shirt guy – love it
    • 4th – missed this one completely
    • 5th – Timmy Knuth – my boy from Florida did a fs feeble on the rail and then almost did a kickflip fs nosegrind. They kept it going on forever to see if he could pull it, but it just didn’t happen
Beyond the cash there were some good-ass prizes, too. I saw a few Fender acoustic guitars being handed out. To end what could be me going on and on and on…there’s nothing like watching Reese Forbes push at mach-five towards the Banks and loft a hefty boneless for fun. Skateboarding rules.

Last of the Mohicans Premiere & Party Time
From BTTB we walked with our Tampa-transplant friend, Pat Steiner, down to Canal Street to get some fake Rolexes. Not really, but we could have gotten a few if we had wanted them…along with some Tiffany gear. Before we got to the Premier, Jorge ollied the biggest double-set of his life…on his birthday of all days. Too bad Rob wasn’t there to document.

Last of the Mohicans premiered in a high-end club that Jon Newport happened to work. It was “$7 Amstel Light Night.” Sweet. But luckily for us, Red Bull Sarah took care of the bar tab, so thanks Sarah! And in the crowd there were some true Mohicans present because I saw Dan Pensyl, Jack Sabback, Freddy Gall, and so many other low-key ripping skateboarders that it was just a great vibe.

We left the Premiere and started walking up-town to a restaurant to meet the Red Bull crew for some dinner. Getting lost in NYC is pretty easy, so if you’ve got to be somewhere by a certain time, then it’s best to get a cab. But be sure to know EXACTLY where you’re going or else the cabbie can’t help you much either. We found this out when we were looking for Gyu Kaku because there were three of them, but when we finally found the joint it ended up being one of the best dinners that I’ve ever had. Thanks so much to Red Bull for inviting us and picking up the tab for that one. Dinner was finally over at 1am and I wish that I could say I went out and partied more, but I can leave you with this story…

We were in the cab back to the Hotel on Rivington and saw Mickey Reyes sitting on a bus bench with Julien Stranger, Brian Seber, and a few others. Those dudes were really living it Anti-Hero style at that moment. I started talking $h!t to Mickey for a minute before he realized it was me and that I was only joking, so the Anti-Heroes started talking $h!t back, which I thoroughly enjoyed…

Bid’ness & Such
There had to be a legitimate reason to bring such a huge Skatepark of Tampa posse to NYC. Yep, we’re here for some bid’ness. More specifically, meetings with Nike SB. You know…the ones where we get together and figure out how we’re going to control skateboarding for the next few years. And since Nike SB footed most of the bill for our NYC trip, we’re figuring that they might want to extend the Agreement with Skatepark of Tampa for the next few years. Yep, we’re stoked.

But those meetings were for Barak, Brian, Rob, and myself. Porpe, Frosty, and Bristol made the trip to the City all on their own in search of skateboarding and party adventures. Hats off to those dudes for making it happen for themselves. That’s what it’s all about. Hop on a plane, hitch a ride, or take a train…just go skate somewhere new with the homies when you get the chance. I hope to see you again soon NYC…

Ryan

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