It is my favorite spot to skateboard. It has a one foot high ledge made of “Winona Travertine” a local limestone that runs around the building and grinds like a dream. The sidewalk around it however, is total shit. It is rough and provides plenty of cracks to catch a wheel on. In fact there are really only two good places to skate it. There is the Johnson Street side (the more fairer of the two) and the Fifth Street side. At night I prefer the Fifth Street side because of the two brightly lit lamp posts that, oddly enough, light an entrance that is no longer used. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be an approachable way to make it to the ledge but after a closer look I found that if I place my board right after a very large lip in the seam of the sidewalk I can make a decent approach with about three hard pushes.
And that is how it goes in Winona. Late in the summer I put together a video that was supposed to be some sort of guide to skateboarding in southeastern Minnesota. The video turned out to be me making jokes about myself interspersed with mediocre skateboarding at best and the retelling of an injury (at a skateboard park ironically enough). What I should of talked about in the video is the widespread decline of street and sidewalk quality in the area. Like I said, total shit. I have slammed hard, very hard twice this year just from hitting a lip on a raised sidewalk. Both times drew blood. Once in front of my beloved library.
So, approach is everything. Before you start getting any fancy ideas about that nice looking ledge next to the four set or the long three set by the library, make sure you check your approach. Consider how many pushes you will need to get up to speed. How many seams will you cross? What will be the state of your balance and speed right before you make your leap to success or doom? A lot of times I push too many times and literally have about a second to gain my balance and set myself up before I plunge over the ledge and down onto the sidewalk below. It’s exhilarating when it works. Painful when it doesn’t.
I do keep hope though. Perhaps city officials will take notice of the general decay of pedestrian pathways and avenues in our city and take a corrective course of action. Some sort of urban renewal in our down economy might take place since people will be less likely to afford automobiles and health services for the common aches and pains of our plump society. Like, people will start walking again. This is just my theory on why we have so many shitty sidewalks. No reason to go downtown. No reason to fix sidewalks. Once again, thank you Walmart and Target for wrecking our downtown sidewalks. (BTW – you guys also sell shitty skateboards).
I’m very fond of our public library and I am happy to see that renovations are being made inside. A recent trend lately has been turning libraries into “For Profit” organizations. I can only imagine a “Walmart People First Library” or a Target branded library complete with an advertisement supported collection (Swiffer presents The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room!). Oh, the horror. The horror. Also the thought of a rent-a-cop shooing me on from my favorite skate spot is annoying. No one bothers me where I am now. I’d like to think the library likes the attention I’m giving it. Like someone is actually here. Hanging out. We’re a hangout! I can only hope more people will follow my lead, pick up skateboards, and join me at the library.