Longboarding in Spokane, WA


Photography by Celeste Sievers

As are most of my summers, 2012’s season of heat has been filled with numerous ups and downs, as well as several life altering events.  However, even with the tumultuous ebb and flow of life, I did stick to one of my summer goals: I finally learned to longboard.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I am fairly athletic person.  I am about six-feet tall, and incredibly lean.  My metabolism is incredibly fast-paced (even at twenty-three), and my buck-forty frame has been pretty-well locked in for the past five-years or so.  I tend to be very coordinated and quick, compared to most people; this is most likely due to my slender frame and years of throwing freight as a grocer.

Essentially, I wanted to enjoy the summer weather with my friends, and longboarding became that means.  I enjoy being outside; my girlfriend (Celeste) and I go hiking every now and again, but on the whole I’m generally an inside guy—hermit-like really.  I do a lot of reading and writing, and my primary occupation has me usually working indoors at a local Fred Meyer for eight+ hours at a stretch.

Although, some part of me has  always been interested in skateboarding, and by extension longboarding, but I never really had that push to actually try it out until recently.  I am the type of person to dive head first into a new project or activity, and this coupled with the fact that I have quite a few friends who just recently started longboarding again, I did exactly that—dived head first…with no regrets.  Longboarding is a sport that seems to have really come back in the Spokane area in recent years, so with all of these things in mind I found myself finally giving it a go.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I went out with my friend, John ‘A1 Sauce’ McDonell, to our local “Big 5” and bought myself a relatively cheap (approximately $79.99 with tax) “Golden Beach” 46’ pin tailed longboard (featured left).  It is a tad on the long side (there are longer though!), but because I was first starting out I wanted a board more built for cruising and stability, rather than tricks.

After practicing quite a bit, I have really gotten into it.  I live in the historic Browne’s Addition of Spokane, WA, and because of the age of the district there are some spectacular hills and stretches to skate on and down.  I’ve actually got so into the sport, that I’m finally brazen enough to try and start learning how to do some basic slides and manuals with my board.  My friend, John, and I decided to buy sliding gloves and begin practicing.  For those of you who don’t know (because hell…I sure didn’t know until a couple months ago!) sliding gloves are essentially a pair of utility gloves with plastic pieces (called pucks) attached to the glove via Velcro.  Some gloves just have pucks for the palms, but others have pieces for the fingertips and thumb, as well as the palm.

Photography by Celeste Sievers

I ended up picking up a pair of Loaded sliding gloves from “The Mountain Goat” on Sprague in downtown Spokane (featured right).  They ran me $54.99, but what is nice about the Loaded gloves is that they have pucks for the fingers and thumb, instead of just the palm.  My buddy John picked up his gloves from a “Zumiez” for $39.99, but because it only has the palm puck the fingertips are already shredding after only a couple weeks of use.

(As an aside, John and I are planning on trying to make our own sliding gloves, and we’ll probably post a tutorial on YouTube—I’ll link here if it comes to fruition)

We’ve slowly been perfecting the Coleman Slide and the Front Slide for the past several weeks, and save for one serious wipeout, it has been phenomenal.  I would highly recommend it.  It is fun to cruise and chat without really having a care in the world.  It sheds me of my responsibilities for a brief moment, and in the moment I’ve been able strengthen my friendships—what’s to complain about?

If you have the interest and the ambition this is most-definitely a sport that doesn’t cost much right off the bat, and if you really enjoy it you can always improve on your equipment.  There are a million different styles of boards and gear for body shape and type of enthusiast.

I’ll post videos and pictures as they become available.  My friend and I aren’t terribly good, but we do like to snap a picture or two of our desperate plans to be better, and I’d love to share them with everyone.

What are your summer sports?  Do you live in area that promotes the outdoors, or do you have to go out of your way to find it?

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Batman Banks with Chase


Yesterday, Hanz and Chubby got into a ruckus for the first time.  Living with an aggressive, criminally insane ferret and a politicized, obese Dachshund is going  to have it’s troubles as all ferret, gorilla, and Dachshund owners know.  The altercation was incited because Chubby playfully decided to tease Hanz about his stylish new Beret (which was recommended to him by one of Abercrombie & Fitch model buddies) and in response Hanz told Chubby to quote, “Shut the hell up you fat bastard,” unquote.  Even with years of political understanding under the wise tutelage of Anthony Weiner Chubby’s rebuttal was expeditiously choked off like Vader finishing off an Admiral.  In his frustration Chubby rashly charged Hanz knocking him to his still shaved buttocks from his foray at the Renaissance Festival; this of course escalated and resulted in a shaved and dyed Dachshund, a razed sofa, a strapped for cash Batman, and an emboldened ferret (like Hanz needs to be emboldened anyhow).

Chubby may sway like a cake shovelin’ Sumo wrestler, but what he did not know is that Hanz studied the art of Teppenyaki for six weeks in New Jersey one summer along with Barney Stinson (the two met in college and are longtime wingmen).  The fight was briefly glorious, however; it was like watching a fat kid run in Forrest Gumps’ leg braces towards a closed down IHOP.  No one wants to tell the kid it’s futile, but we all know once he hits the shuttered doors it’s going to be sad.  Chubby was obviously brave to face a bi-polar, knife wielding ferret, but his finesse was sorely lacking.  I watched, dumbfounded, as Hanz embarrassed Chubby even further by trimming his shaggy hair like Edward Scissorhands finishing off a shrub and then repeatedly dunking him various dyes.  After Hanz was done with Chubby he looked like a reverse Panda Express logo…just sad.  Also, my sofa was destroyed by a frenzied ferret.

It took hours to calm Chubby down after the incident.  And, like all quandaries Chubby opted to do what we all would do in the same situation…he called Batman.  Weirdly enough we have a bat signal on our roof.  We waited and waited, and Batman nor Robin showed.  I am assuming Batman was preoccupied elsewhere and had bigger fish to fry that evening.  Regardless, I still have a seriously perturbed Dachshund who just keeps holding mock debates, straw polls, and conventions for his stuffed pig Fredrick.  Hopefully Fredrick can talk some sense into him.

Also, Malicious the Gorilla still lives in Brad’s closet.

Jack and the Lilac Butcher, Part II


Spokane 

Jack awoke with a sudden heart-gripping jolt; his head was aching and his esophagus was scratchy like sandpaper.  He clumsily searched for the bedside lamp switch.  He lay naked, atop the covers, merely thinking.  He finally found the light and it slowly flickered to life.  The hotel was one of the nicest Jack had ever stayed at, which was proven by the comfortable warmth of the room.  Jack lay there for another couple of minutes letting the light wash over and his eyes to adjust till he finally sat to the edge of the mattress.  He got up and made his way to the washroom where he promptly grabbed a cup of water to quench his parched throat.  He tilted the glass at an angle with a slight of his wrist to look at the etched glass and the clear, crisp water.

“Certainly looks half empty to me,” Jack chuckled.

He stared into the mirror.  He was scruffy.  His brown hair was cropped short, but his face was covered in stubble.  He was taller then most men and was firmly built.  He had been a decent boxer in the military and had kept up the habits after he was out.  It showed in the mirror, but with a suit it was difficult to tell.  His brown eyes were the color of a Greek coffee; they were darker than most and spotted with black flecks.

“Still look like shit though,” he muttered to himself as he placed his glass back onto the sink ledge.

He’d shave in the morning he thought, and at that note he sauntered back to his bed and in exhaustion collapsed into it.  His body was tired, but his mind was still whirling.  Some included the trials of the past day others were much older and much more heart wrenching.  He was analyzing, contemplating, and planning for every eventuality whether Jack wanted to or not.  He finally fell asleep early in the morning, but tossed and turned as nightmares visited him. 

The Butcher lay there contemplating.  It was late and the smell of decay clung around him like a cologne.  He hated where he lived, but it was cheap and no one ever came looking for him.  He lay in bed pondering and toying with an innumerable amount of possibilities concerning the most trivial of circumstances.  He joyously went over all of the little details from the other evening.  How warm he felt on the inside, how the air bristled against the hair on his arms, the way his heart pounded when he crossed the threshold in her room, the way her lips and hot breath felt against the palm of his hand when he held her.

He lay there blinking for several minutes grinning to himself in the darkness before he finally got up.  Stark naked and alone in his greased up little shit stain of a shack he made his way to the washroom.  Even with the windows closed he could still smell the green river as if it where running right through his room.

He grabbed a dirty glass of water and looked at it intensely before chuckling to himself, “Looks half full to me.”   The killer looked at himself in the mirror.  He was scruffy, but handsome.  Plain features, but a nice square jaw and emerald colored eyes that almost matched the river outside.  He was about six feet tall and carried himself with confidence.  Muscularly built he could have been a boxer if he had been trained right.

The structure of the sport probably would have saved him to, but he personally didn’t believe in that religious, savoir complex bullshit that seemed to hang around the aristocratic like a dust cloud of pretension.  They were always the ones to sponsor and ogle the sport in the name of ‘structure’ and teamwork.  If it wasn’t them it was the God damn military brats; the killer’s hatred for those pricks stemmed almost as deep as his hatred for wealthy women.  The list of people he loathed was long, but carefully prioritized and catalogued and even in its irony it made him happy to think about.

Before heading back to bed he looked at his reflection in the cracked, warped mirror he said, “Not half bad,” and then sleepily shuffled back to bed where he promptly shut his mind up and fell into a slumber filled with what most men would call nightmares, but what the Butcher called pleasant dreams.

7am 

“How’d ya sleep?”

“Horrible,” replied a sleep deprived Jack.

“Wanna a drink?” said Ryan.

“At seven in the morning…,” Jack hesitated and thought for a quick moment, “…nah.”

“So what will be lookin’ at first, this morning, the body? The scene? The police house?  All of the above?”

“I figure we’ll hit the morgue first and then will head on over to the crime scene.”

“Sounds good,” replied Ryan through a mouthful of muffin.

8:30am 

Jack and Ryan sauntered into the little shit-in-the-hole that Spokane called their morgue.  It was grimy, wreaked of death, and was dimly lit.  Ryan had seen ‘A Symphony of Horror’ recently and this place reminded him of Orlok’s castle in Bremen -In other words, not pleasant-.  Jack showed the receptionist their credentials and she let them pass without even a nod.

“We’d probably be able waltz in here with a fuckin’ grocery list as an ID,” Jack whispered.

Ryan snickered.  At that they reached the end of the hallway and passed through a pair of doors loosely hanging upon their hinges.  As soon as they passed the threshold they both realized that the doors where more for keeping the odor at bay and not for security.  Their nostrils where bombarded with the smell of decay and rot.  An old man by the name of Herbert skulked out the shadows to greet them.

“How are you this fine evening?” Herbert asked?

“Good, considering it’s almost 9am,” Jack replied.

Again, Ryan snickered at the sarcasm; Herbert was oblivious.

“Can we have a look at the body found in the Browne’s manor?”

“Of course, of course.”

Herbert led them through another archway; this one covered by plastic strips, and into a smaller, more foul smelling room than the last.

“Here she is.  Pretty little thing, isn’t she?”

Ryan felt tingles spike across as skin as the man spoke.  The hair on his arm was standing at attention.  Neither Jack nor Ryan replied to Herbert’s inquiry, but proceeded to take a closer look at the body.

Her face was intact, but from the throat down her body was mangled.  She was chopped and butchered beyond recognition.  Her hair was ash blonde, she was in her mid-thirties by the look of it, and according to Herbert she had been sexually assaulted post mortem.  Her skin was pulverized and it was difficult to tell what was flesh.  She had obviously been stabbed multiple times by a long blade but other than that it was hard to tell what was a wound and what wasn’t.

Ryan was getting a sick feeling in his stomach.  Between the way Herbert stood off to the side smiling, the smell, and the horrendousness of the body Ryan needed to step out for a moment.  As Jack continued to look over the body and scribble down notes upon his vellum pad Ryan stepped outside to take a breather.  Once he was outside he lit up a cigarette and glanced at the baseball card that came with the pack.  It was no Honus Wagner, but still better than those cheap caramel cards.  Jack followed suit a couple minutes later and lit up as well.

“So what do you think?” said Jack.

“I think Herbert’s a fuckin’ sicko is what I think.”

“I mean about the woman,” as Jack exhaled.

“I think who ever cut her up is a twisted son of a bitch and he should be put down.  I’ve never seen someone so tore up before.  And, to be fucked afterwards…takes a real kind of evil to do that,” Ryan said.

“I agree,” stated Jack simply, “Where do we proceed?”

“I think that we should go to the crime scene.  We should scout out for anything left behind that the locals might have overlooked.  Maybe interview a couple of the neighbors and see if anything unusual crops up.”

“Perfect I was hoping you’d say that,” Jack grinned, “I like a good feather rufflin’”

Jack and the Lilac Butcher


Epilogue

          It was dusk.  All was quiet.  The neighborhood was coated in darkness.  It was thick.  A few lights dimly shown through the leaves of the numerous trees that dotted the hilltop.  No one would expect him, much less her.  He was alone just like always. He could see the moon.  It hung in the sky like a shy sun.  It goaded him.  It tried to show his location, but even the moon cast shadows.

          He had been here many times before.  Usually he would come in the daylight, but today was after all a special occasion.  He had killed before.  When he was young he always enjoyed capturing stray cats or dogs and ‘playing’ with them before bagging them and tossing them in the river.  He had become quite good at it actually.  First it was a simple smack to the head and then the one time he used a sharp rock and saw the first real spray of blood he knew he had to find a knife.  The next day he stole one from his father’s butcher shop.  He had never been sure if his father had known.  That night when his father back-handed him to the stone fireplace causing his head to rocket with pain and his lips to tremble with blood he had a fleeting thought that maybe his father had known about the knife, but he had never been certain.  Plus, the next hit from his father made him forget that last thought so it was a rather moot point anyhow

          The day after that he took his black-eyed self and used the knife for the first time.  He caught his ‘first’ prey behind the house and used the knife on it over and over again.  Splashing himself with blood until he became scared that he might be caught and hurriedly cleaned up and threw the remains into the river to reside with the others.

          He smiled at the thought of his childhood and shook himself to the present once more.  Behind his back his co-workers had described his smile as murderous and he smiled again at the irony.  Tonight was special.  He had hunted and killed the most dangerous game before, but he felt more alive tonight than before.  Perhaps, because it was a full moon?

          He had been waiting in the carriage house for hours waiting…waiting for the perfect moment.  The way the moon had begun to shrink away told him it was time.  It had given up.  He slowly began to creep out of the carriage house making sure he didn’t make even the slightest of a noise as he slipped out of the backdoor which he had left slightly ajar for just this moment.  He clicked it behind him and began to move between the decorative foliage as he headed toward the main house.  It was large almost manor sized.

 “The rich always have a way of living in grander don’t they?” he thought.

          He reached the maid’s entrance and opened the door without hesitation.  How sad and humorous was it that the lady of the house was the person to provide him with an easy, afterhours entrance without even knowing it? Again he chortled to himself at the irony.  He was a ghost to most.  People told him things without even realizing it or caring.

          He silently fell into the shadows of the house and moved across the kitchen to the stairs.  He crept upwards.  It seemed almost as long as he had hidden in the carriage house, but he knew it had only been a couple of seconds…a minute at most.  He had finally reached her door.  He had dreamed about this moment for several nights and he had to wait to calm down from his excitement.  He didn’t want to be careless.  He finally grasped the doorknob and turned it…first a quarter turn, then finally a full one after hearing no rustle from the other side.

          Once the door was open enough for him to crouch through he was quick and efficient.  He stood, strode across the room swiftly, slipped the knife from his sleeve –the very same he had stolen years earlier- and began to stab.  She screamed and thrashed as the blood soaked through her expensive sheets and coated his face.  She desperately tried to escape, but it was already too late.

 As she started to choke out on her own blood he paused and crouched…he whispered, “It’ll be alright.  We’re having fun, right?”

Seattle

          “Fuck,” said Ryan in pain.

          Half-heartedly Jack replied, “What?”

          “I just burned my tongue on my coffee.”

          Jack just shook his head, and continued eating his scrambled eggs and browns.  The diner was quaint and sat nestled in downtown Seattle.  Not close enough to the Sound to see the water, but close enough to hear the ships passing in and out of port delivering fresh goods to one of the more prominent harbors in the Northwest.  It was cool and crisp, with a slight drizzle in the air that glistened once combining with the reflective nature of the diner’s glass.  The drips and drops coated the glass that Jack peered out of, and in reverse the newly etched glass read, ‘Miss Victory.’

          It had been a slow week, and he honestly would have retorted a quick quip to Ryan’s pain, but he was feeling rather stoic lately and was lost in his thoughts at the moment anyhow.  Nothing interesting had crossed his desk in several months; he and Agent Ryan usually ended up splitting their time between finishing paperwork and boring guard details that usually ended with a round of thanks from some miscellaneous VIP that Jack honestly could give a shit about.

          “Where we headed this time?  Portland?  Further South to California?”

          “Nowhere actually,” Jack replied solemnly.

          “What?” Ryan said with a slight lisp because of his burnt and probably now swollen tongue.

          “Nowhere, presently.”

          “No assignment…really?”

          “Not yet.”

          “This is bullshit,” Ryan said as he gobbled up the last bites of his steak.

          “I know, I know,” Jack said solemnly, and then added “Grab your coat. We’ll head to the office and see if something has come up since yesterday.”

           They paid for their service and Ryan donned his tan trench while Jack grabbed his fedora and placed his jacket over the nook of his elbow and forearm.

          “Trolley?”

          “Yes,” Jack said, “The rain is a little heavier than usual, and like our assignments I’m feeling lazy.”

          Ryan merely smirked.  They headed on out and caught the nearest trolley without much effort and were on their way to the Seattle downtown Pinkerton office.  Within a couple of minutes they were off and briskly walking the block or two it took to reach the front doors of the Northwest branch of the Pinkerton office.  It was still drizzling, but it seems to have started to lighten with several streaks of light streaming through the clouds almost like a less colorful parade.  Standing at the door was a heavyset man of about thirty-five.  He didn’t look opposing at first glance because of his calm demeanor, but Wayne was more than just a doorman.  He was trained to handle ‘trouble’ and on more than one occasion had handled ‘trouble.’

          They showed their IDs and walked on through without the slightest indication that Wayne had even noticed them.  The building was fairly new.  The building boom was in full swing and it seemed as if structures had sprung up everywhere.  Taller and taller each time Jack thought to himself.  Jack and Ryan hopped aboard the elevator and began to upward.

          “Do you think we’ll have anything?” Ryan queried.

          “Who knows.  I’ve seen stranger things happen.  Remember when Reynolds caught that bank robber while he was taken a piss?”

         “Yeah, yeah, didn’t he ditch his partner to take a leak while he was grabbin’ a snow cone or somethin’?

          “It was a Cannoli, but anyhow, yeah he went around to the alleyway to shake the snake without knowing that the bank around the corner had just been robbed and the fucker was bookin’ it down the same alleyway right at him.  That fat bastard Reynolds tackled the guy with his dick out and everything.  I think he got a fuckin’ commendation out of it too.”

          “Lucky fuck,” Ryan sputtered through quiet laughs.

          “If Reynolds can catch a bank robber with his slong we can get a decent case today.”

           The elevator reached its destination and slowly bobbed to a stop. Jack grabbed the metal grate and slid it open with ease.  There were Pinkerton agents and interns hustlin’ and bustlin’ to and fro with stacks of papers.  Several arguments were in session like usual, but none seemed even a hair past a healthy debate.  Jack strode to the back of the office, straight down the middle of chaos with Ryan in tow.

           “Worthington!” Jack’s boss snapped from entrance of his office.

          “Yes sir” Jack hastily replied.

           It was one of the few times that Ryan ever heard his mentor’s voice waiver.

           “Probably the only bastard here with bigger balls than Jack,” muttered Ryan to himself.

          “You too Ryan.”

          Just as quickly as Jack he hurried into the boss’s office.

         “Word has it you guys are bored of guard duty.  Is that true, Worthington?”

          “Not bored per se. More.” Jack began.

          “Shut up Worthington” the boss finished for him.

          Ryan smiled.

          “Wipe that retarded smile off your face boy.  You two are going to Spokane.”