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The 4th of July at FDR
by Phil Jackson

The fourth of July at FDR is the most hectic event I have ever witnessed. The recipe for this chaos is basically gnarly skateboarders + a world famous skatepark + alcohol + fireworks. It’s terribly hard to communicate this mayhem through words and photographs but I’ll try my best.

FDR is the only place I know of where mongo pushing is encouraged, pad use is a sign of gnarliness and flip tricks are booed. Everybody there skates for fun and a hell of a lot of them are good enough to be famous and chose not to be. Every single time I go to FDR, I’m amazed by what these people are capable of doing. Screeching 360 layback? Sure.

Let’s start at the beginning. I caught the R5 train to suburban station and then took the C Bus to Broad and Geary. From there it’s a good half mile skate to FDR stuntwood riding facility, but it’s well worth it. I had pretty good timing and got to the park at noon, just when the bash was supposed to start. Luckily I didn’t see a single biker, but there was no way the FDR rippers were going to tolerate bikes on the fourth of july anyway. They’re very territorial, but that’s because they’re the ones who build and maintain it. They’re also very patriotic, which is kind of rare in skateboarding, and so the Tattooed Mom pocket was covered in a freshly painted American flag. When I got there, the place looked less crowded than a normal fall saturday. Most of the locals are heavy drinkers so waking up early isn’t for them. These people are so terribly committed to their booze that they can do the hardest tricks while holding a beer. And no, they don’t spill a single drop. There’s this extremely tight 3 foot quarterpipe with a little bit of vert at the top of one of the bowls. It was built by the skaters as just a fun little addition, but if you fall you’re going right into an 8 foot bowl. I have no idea how people manage to do tricks on the thing. I got to shoot a photo of this one local rock revert it while holding a beer! There he was, with a can of budweiser skating this ultra steep quarterpipe and when I asked him to do another one for a photo, he acted like he didn’t see what was so spectacular.

Even though it wasn’t crowded yet, the carnage had begun and I recognized plenty of familiar faces. As Steve noted last year, Brewce Martin is a total skate machine. The man wore home-made America pants! America pants! He even had a flag for a cape, the whole outfit looked pretty gnarly. Oh and if that weren’t enough patriotism, this man duct-taped roman candles to his skateboard and carved around the park with them shooting bursts of color. Sorry folks, no photo of that.

The live music was actually pretty good. The Bedrockers ( played, one of their guitarists is this gnarly local skater named George Halfllings. It was energetic skate-rock, a good contribution to the day’s vibe.

The ripping thrived, despite the blaring heat. I myself had multiple orange sodas purchased from the ice-cream man. He had quite a day of business. He usually comes every hour or so but that day he sat in the parking lot all day and let the customers come to him.

There were many more obstacles than just the weather. You’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head to not run into someone on a day as crowded as it became. If you don’t watch out, you are going to get hit. Eventually, you aren’t as bothered by the loads of people all trying to skate and you can do backside 360 melon grabs and then just a plain old backside 360.

As if the heat and crowds weren’t enough to watch out for, one guy brought a giant box full of firecrackers and was throwing them right into the bottom of the bowl. They hurt my ears pretty badly but I sacrificed for all of you skatedork fiends. There was so much fireracker debris sitting in the bowl that I wondered how everybody was skating through it.

One shirtless skater got pretty mad at the firecrackers and tried to stomp out a few. When that didn’t work, he decided it would be a better idea to roll them out with his bare back (while they were going off). Now...I’ve always doubted the mental stability of some of the people at this place, but this guy has a complete lack of thought for his own personal safety. Not only did he manage to walk away unwounded, he put out the firecrackers as well.

The bowl shredding continued. Some guy that looks like (but isn’t) Erik Ellington kept doing backside tailslides on the one lip. He had to ride through the firecracker remnants but didn’t seem to mind at all. It was great; pure stylee and no film wasted doing the sequence.

I had recognized Imitation-Ellington, but there were a fair amount of new faces. Orange-Shirted Crazy Man was just too good. You see, taking photos of strangers is very difficult sometimes. You have to pick out a good one and watch him or her try a trick that takes them a little while (but not too long). The Green Goblin was good at this. Orange Shirted Crazy Man, however, was not. He did everything first try and because of how he skates, he gets on fire after landing a trick and will do three more incredible ones right afterward. This is frustration. I kicked myself at least ten times after missing the sheer annhilation that the guy is capable of. And I’ve never seen him at FDR before, which is strange because you can’t just show up at a park like FDR and know every tranny like the back of your hand. This invert on the bunker was one of the sickest things that went down that day.

All four of the female skaters I saw that day were damn talented. One of them was wearing a bikini-top, she was sick. She had a really wide stance and plenty of flow, lots of carving done by her.

Baminem was harder to recognize without a shirt on. I guess you could say he tore up the place, but it just feels different when it’s him doing the things he does. The giant ollie from boob to boob was gnarly, but he does that every time he comes to FDR. I can tell that when Bam shows up, he knows that he isn’t wanted. People dislike that he’s gone hollywood and they don’t treat him like a local.

Bryan Karl Lathrop was there, too. He runs the FDR website ( and he has this ability to go fairly slow but pump really hard right before he goes up the bunker wall. He zooms up the thing with ease and does frontside airs. I’d have to push a lot if i wanted to do that, the secret to FDR is not having to push at all.

The Bunker is harder to skate than it looks. It’s obvious when people are skating FDR for their first time because they struggle a lot getting used to the transition. Here you have a stylish backside grind from a local who is almost totally sideways.

Luckily, nobody was hurt. Somebody could have been seriously injured, and half of the people there wouldn’t have even stopped skating. I myself almost fell victim to the madness. This little dwarf with a fireworks addiction decided that it’d be a good idea to send one screaming across the park with no real regard for who was in its way. If I had been standing three feet to the left, that thing would have hit me in the eyeball. People like that ruin the fun. All in all, the day was a giant success. Everybody was ripping and having the best time ever. Our founding-fathers would be proud.