FDR vs. VANS Warped Tour by brian nugent

FDR skate park was built in an attempt to give skaters a place to go after the city banned skateboarding at LOVE Park. They placed the park as far south as possible, under I 95, a cool dry place. Philadelphia did not achieve their goal in giving Center City skaters a place to go. Not only is the park much farther than most people are willing to skate, the park is not geared to provide what skaters want.
One day this changed. Many skaters took the park into their own hands and built a massive conglomerate of pool-style obstacles that now draw skaters from points worldwide. Still, I must mention that this does not satisfy the street skaters of Philly. It does, however, breed new skaters and keeps old ones coming back for more.

I recently headed down to the park by means of a different mode of transportation, my bike. What brought me to the park that day was not my usual routine of trying to conquer the concrete, but to skate along with some of the skaters touring with the Warp Tour. Much to my surprise there was some heavy sessioning going on. The most mentionable would have to be Salba (Steve Alba). He was tearing into grinds in the over-vert both backside and frontside putting Bam’s Thrasher cover to shame. The usual locals were there as well. Wes Crawford was busting out his local skills and showing us all how much he rides there. His high pop and tweaked grabs were twisting necks. Dan Tag, along with his crew of friends, was keeping the vibe honest with hollers and cheers for each and every skater who was having a good time. Some kids traveled up from Delaware. But not too many other Philadelphia locals were there. My plan was to ask the Warp skaters why they were skating the concrete, while just blocks away a massive generation X-treme style Vans Warp Tour was taking place. Adam Wallacavage finally set me off and got me talking to people, so the interviewing began. First Adam grabbed Dan Tag and told me to ask him why his arms are always so stiff. He avoided the question but was eager to talk to me about FDR.

Bri: “So why are you skating here at FDR instead of hanging out at the Warp Tour?”
Tag: “Well, I’m 29 years old and I don’t really follow music. Most of my friends are here skating, not over there. Plus at Warp they have 3 dollar water.”
Bri: What do you think of the whole
Warp Tour?
Tag: It’s good! Everyone comes out of the woodwork. Everyone is out to have fun, it’s good for those kids who want to hear music. I think I’m gonna go over there later when I’m done skating. This year there is an added bonus that guys are gonna jump motorcycles, playing superman.

A few moments later, on top of the park’s main pyramid, Tag grabbed his buddy Rick Charnoski, who is working at Warp this year. Tag told me to interview him.
Bri: So Rick, why are you here instead of working over at Warp?
Rick: Well, I have been on the Warp Tour every day for 5 weeks. Besides, all of my bros are here. This is skateboard freedom. This is the real deal, no rules. I’m ditching outta work.
Bri: What do you think about the whole Warp Tour gig?
Rick: Its pretty fun. From my perspective it’s fun ’cause I get to go wherever I want to go. The whole Warp Tour crew is pretty tight. We are like family after touring for 6 weeks. I get to take showers with Greg Griffin and Steve Alba, they have nice asses.
With that said, Rick rolled in and began his run.

Steve Alba has been in the heart of skateboarding for so long – at least twice the amount of time I have been skating. You can feel it when he is around. I really wanted to talk to him, but he never sat down. He was a skate machine. Finally I spotted him on a water break and made my way over.

Bri: Hey Salba, my friend does a magazine and I wanted to ask you a few questions.
Salba: Yeah, sure.
Bri: So I know you work for Warp and have a lot to do with the whole event, I was wondering why you’re over here skating FDR instead of working or skating the vert ramp at Warp.
Salba: ’Cause this is cement. All ramp is is a simulation of pool skating. Why skate a vert ramp when you can skate the real thing right here a few blocks away?
Bri: Yeah, true. Have you ever ridden
FDR before?
Salba: One time, I came here last summer.
Its way better now, easier to keep speed.
Its hella fun.
Bri: What do you think of the Warp Tour?
It’s pretty cool. I’m kinda keeping it low key this year. The first two years I was listed with the big names for vert skating. Now it’s like “Salba’s old school” so why should I bother going out of my way? These guys think they are superstars. Technical vert skating is getting way outta hand. To me this is the underground of skateboarding. I like this punk rock side, dirty raw. This is the real deal.

I thanked him for his honesty. At that he finished his water and was ready to skate. The session got better. After it finally peaked, Salba departed. As soon as he left the smiles on everyone’s faces were gone. The few skaters still left tried their hardest to get in long lines. Maybe just inspired by the day, everyone wanted to get better. In these moments some collisions occurred. Anyhow, the good vibe was gone and the angry park dog mood was back. This attitude is part of what keeps many street skaters from wanting to skate at FDR. It’s a shame that so many skaters of this city are so divided. Some have even gone as far as to stencil graffiti at FDR reading “HATE Park” simulating the LOVE statue logo.
FDR is really good, and it hasn’t even reached its potential yet. There is still plenty of space to pour more concrete and build more steel ramps. My thanks to those who put in the work to make Philadelphia a better place to skate.