"Michigan Winters", a term I have borrowed from -NAME REMOVED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT- , are tough. These aren't the winters we used to have when we were younger. The kind of winters spent watching The Flip Video (Obviously, this means 'Sorry.' 'Sorry' IS the definitive Flip video [at least for my generation] and always will be. If you're at someone's house and you suggest throwing on 'The Flip Video' and they reach for 'Extremely Sorry', leave immediately.), and shoveling your driveway out so that hopefully within two days you can skate flat for the 15-25 minutes the frigid temperatures allow before retreating inside. No, these winters aren't even comparable to the 'Great Winter of 2011', a winter which resulted in possibly the greatest output of productivity this blog has seen, at least in regards to outdoor street missions.
No, these aren't the sort of "Michigan Winters" I'm referring to. A "Michigan Winter", for the case of this post, is a winter in which not much skating can occur. With the loss of South Street, The Streets, and Oakland Vert Skateparks all in the same two year span, it is beginning to get harder and harder to skateboard indoors in the winter. Knowing full well that the park will stay the same day after day limits creativity. Because of the lack of other skateparks for people to go to, the nights in which, say, Modern (the only "good" [clean, bright, not super cold, wide open, many options, good mini and no helmet rules] indoor park worth going to) is more affordable for skateboarders is going to be completely packed. It sucks, but at least we can skate there.
Unfortunately, for many, after a few sessions with those dumb wristbands on, the indoor parks become very stale very fast. Less and less people begin to show up, however, many of us still want to hang out with our skateboarding friends. This climate results in piling the fuck out, unfortunately.
Ryan Gaynier was killed by a drunk driver. Tony Tartamella remains in the hospital in a coma due to an accident that he suffered (quite possibly) due to alcohol. These are cold, hard facts, people. It pains me to say it, and I know others have felt this way. Why is it that many of us, as skateboarders, choose to promote the idea that if we aren't skating, (or at work), we must have a 40oz. in our hands? Why is it that in order to raise money for an injured skateboarder we have to have a video premiere with the proceeds from alcohol go to him? Because skateboarders drink when they aren't skating. And unfortunately, during "Michigan Winters", there's a lot of drinking going on.
How many of us have Ryan Gaynier boards on our wall, and continue to get drunk and drive home, knowing full well that we are part of the problem? How many of us are stoked on the image we portray to the outside world, that we are reckless, that we drink to excess and put ourselves and others at risk? It hurts me to ask these questions. It hurts me to imply that a life of excess is not always the life that we should lead. I'm not saying to quit drinking or partying. Shit, I party too. What I am asking is that we try to lead by example. Don't drink and drive, idiots. Don't create the unnecessary risk of hurting other people on the way home from a fundraiser for someone who got hurt.
I'm not saying Tyrant is to blame. It's admirable that they attempted to help out Tony (attempted because some SCUMBAG fuck stole the donation jar and deserves death). I'm not saying that drinking isn't fun. I'm saying that we should think before we put skateboarding second, and ourselves or others at harm. Skateboarding is fucking awesome, and I've turned down getting laid for a chance to do it, several times.
Look at someone like Reynolds. It's pretty well known that he, along with Greco, piled the fuck out for a few years there. Nowadays, they're both sober, and have produced better parts (with the exception of Greco... sorry bud, but you'll never out do Baker 2G) than they EVER could have when they were piling out. Doesn't this say anything to us? Skateboarding becomes harder to do when you're waking up hung over every day.
Basically, if partying gets to the point when it inflicts with your pal the skateboard, how is that fun anymore?
I'm glad this Michigan winter is over, and I hope to not hear the "I haven't skated in ________" phrase for a long time. Just please, remember that our actions have reactions, positive and negative, and try not to inflict harm on another person.
Sorry for being That Guy.