Wednesday, February 14, 2007
What's Wrong With This Picture?
About an hour of yesterday's surf was decent, then the place just turned to junk in the blink of an eye, the flap of a seagull's wing in Chile, the swirl of a digital blob on a satellite radar. M was on the rocks moments later, mumbling something about a latte. Disrubbered, I pointed my lens at the cove, careful not to aim too close to you-know-where. I'm a journalist, dammit, but I also have a certain respect for that place - and my own front teeth - that keeps my camera away like two magnets denying the other contact. They want to get close, but they just can't.
So we drove home, talking about "Project Caveman"...
At around 5pm, I found myself stuck in gridlock on the 84 interchange. I exited immediately and turned left at the railroad tracks. Driving through the industrial district, I noticed how the yellow light was bouncing off the brick walls, tattooed with graffiti. It was The Golden Hour and I was a block from Burnside.
I have a new enthusiasm for skating, that's no secret, but I also have an old enthusiasm for taking pictures when the light is warm. Pulling up to this underground landmark, I noticed that the sun was angling perfectly under the bridge, casting long shadows across the hills of cement as skaters flew gracefully across its surface. A few hours earlier I watched a surfer land 360 air at the cove and now a skater executed the same trick on a concrete swell.
I pulled out my camera and snapped a couple pictures, then walked by a crow's nest of skaters who were hanging out on the elevated platform drinking beers. Nobody paid me any mind, except a ramshackle kid who hit me up for a smoke, which I didn't have. Admiring the once-illegitimate terrain, it crossed my mind that this place was sacred in a punk way. But was it also protected by its residents, the people whose lives revolved around being locals there, in the same way as the spot I had been so close to on the coast?
As I took another picture, I felt something strike my leg. Looking down, I noticed a plastic bottle still bouncing at my feet. Did somebody just throw Gatorade at me? I looked up. I was underneath the bridge. Maybe a passing pedestrian chucked it over the rail above...
I took a couple more pics, then headed back to my car. Along the way, I thought I heard someone at the other end of the park yell, "No photos!"
As I made my way back to the sidewalk, a skater with scabs on his cheeks leaned over the chain link fence and said, "Hey! You got a couple bucks?" I told him I didn't. With that, I hopped back into my car, surfboards on the roof, and drove home.
I know there are a few Portland skaters who read this blog. If they (or anyone else) can explain why photos of Burnside aren't allowed, I'd be happy to take down this post.
Daniel Johnson - I'm Nervous