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Worked from home most of the day. Chilled with my daughter, who was busy discovering her new electric guitar.


Ate breakfast with Eleanor at Benna's, then took her shoe shopping.

Eleanor is a size six and a half, or size seven, depending on the style of shoe. That's a full size and a half larger than her mother at a minimum.

A little after noon, dance classes for both of us at Estilo. She takes salsa, then ballet. I brush up on technique in beginner salsa, then take an intermediate class that makes me work a little more. I am still pinching myself: is this unbelievably cool thing actually happening?

Dropped Eleanor off at her mother's and sped myself on the way to New York. Wrote Monday Fourteen on the Chinatown bus. Spent the evening hanging out with [ profile] noisefootprint. There was upscale vegan-asian cuisine in Prospect Park, followed by roller skating at Coney Island.

Whee! I've never been to Coney Island, ever. Good thing I saw it last night because it's damn near gone. Hipster entrepreneurs are doing their best to rescue it.

The Dreamland Roller Rink is tiny, the rink surface is made of white snap-together tiles and the rental skates aren't that good, but it doesn't matter, it's a great scene and an excuse to keep the Childs Restaurant building open. There were several extremely watchable skaters and a Purple Rain theme, which folks responded to with an enthusiasm worthy of Sex Dwarf.

I spent two hours on the rink and have the blisters to show for it. Well worth it. I'm impressed with [ profile] noisefootprint's stamina, considering she went cycling earlier in the day, got a flat and wound up walking her bike back from Red Hook.

Afterwards we downed beers at an outdoor beach bar dive type establishment and headed back to the surprisingly shiny subway station sometime after midnight.


I managed to pass out by a bit after one, which was wise, because my Chinatown bus pulled out at seven A.M. I caught a few more z's on the bus, zipped home, hit Benna's for a disturbingly powerful caffeinated beverage and got my ass to my salsa performance class on time.

Wondering why I didn't skip class? You try skipping one of the last few classes before a public performance. Friendly warning: angry salseras wear heels.

We're getting tight, which is a good thing, seeing as we're on stage in three weeks.

After class I headed over to help new neighbor [ profile] nohx settle into the neighborhood. By the time I got there her family were nearly done unloading the truck, but I managed to be of some help, somewhere along the line. Certainly I helped her find an excuse to eat lunch at the Royal Tavern.

Then I went home and fell down. There was a nap involved.

I try to acommodate the need to fall down for a sustained period of time at least once in any given weekend. My puritan streak still loses patience with me when I do nothing of any significance for any length of time, but my puritan streak can suck it. When the body orders you to stop, you stop.

Eventually I watched Noises Off and thought vague thoughts of karaoke, which I am still thinking now. Maybe I'll get my ass out the door, maybe I won't. I have been free on Sunday nights all summer and I have yet to do anything interesting with this privilege. Hmm.
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I recokon I'll check this out, not this Sunday but maybe next month when Eleanor is with me on Sunday afternoons. Whee!


Oct. 28th, 2007 02:34 pm
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There will be a Broadway adaptation of Xanadu, the dumbest movie on skates.

That is sort of awesome, as long as I don't have to go. Well... maybe with a flask. Maybe with two.

Edit: actually it sounds like they really get it:

"Just like Starlight Express?" [director] Beane was asked. "Yes," he joked, "minus the depth. That's what we're going for!"

Evidently they've noticed that the movie actually has a premise (a greek muse comes down from Olympus to inspire someone to open a roller disco) and that this actually offers interesting elements (Greek mythology, roller disco) from which someone might make a good story.

I might have to see this.
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A couple months ago I went roller skating at The Palace. I brought my skates. My beloved "skate your ass off on Kelly Drive" bargain basement quad skates.

I spent the whole evening struggling to keep up and blamed my technique.

Last night I went again, with new bearings. And it was a little better. But still pretty crap. I continued to blame my approach. Because, y'know, I'm a software guy. If something doesn't work, it can't possibly be broken! You're just using it wrong!

Around eleven I got sick of the pitying looks and well-meant cries of encouragement and indulged myself in a skate rental. Just, y'know, to rule out the possibility that my skates were at all relevant. Put on the shitty rental skates, find out you're just as lame in those, get back to figuring out why...

I stepped out on the rink and WHOA immediately FELL ON MY ASS, which never happens. And said um. and got off the rink, and rolled around on the carpet for a minute or so to get a feel for this completely different, utterly frictionless experience. And then got back on the rink. And never once had to pick up my feet unless I actually felt like it. I could skate as fast as I dared. I regretted not having figured it out before the backwards skate was over. Etc.

Oops: it seems my own skates are completely inappropriate for indoor use. Utterly period the end. And now the idea of skating on a rink actually sounds like an immediate pleasure and not something to get the hang of... someday.

Sometimes, it really isn't you.


Oct. 21st, 2007 02:16 pm
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Home around quarter to one. Nervous and fired up. Need to shave, change, practice a little, get to the performance by four... y'know, none of this is going to take any time really. And my house is already clean. And if I hang around here I'll just get anxious...

[Looks at skates]

[Thinks about the perfect weather]

[Vanishes to Kelly Drive for an hour]

The new bearings are awesome. Almost right away I had that loose feeling that took longer and longer to get as my old bearings got more and more messed up.

I particularly blame the day I insisted on skating the Wissahickon connector trail. That was fun but not especially bright.

On the way back past the art museum some undergrad-looking chick did a double take and sort of stammered and said "whoa! whoa! you are l33t sir!" (*) and I was all huh? This does not happen. Am I hot today or is she on something? And where can I get some pls?

[Looks down]

Black quad skates... boot-cut jeans... PBR T-shirt (**)... OIC.

The skates are so much happier now. Nearly lost a toe stop, but I was nearly to the end of the line anyway. Might even make it to a real rink on Wednesday.

I am now nicely loose and chill for the show.

(*) Yes, she said L33T.

(**) Total hipster laundry day coincidence: I won it last night at the Peekaboo Revue. Because I had a condom, you see.


Oct. 19th, 2007 03:48 pm
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Installed Bones Reds bearings on my skates. Easiest thing inna world. My attempt to clean the old bearings left me thinking this was a bigger deal than it actually is. Turns out those were spectacularly shot from all my long-distance outdoor skating. It is not normal to have little ball bearings flying away everywhere.

The wheels just spin and spin.

Can't wait to try them. My next shot at it would be... uh... maybe Wednesday night? Unless I play hooky at some point.

I don't seem to have spacers. This doesn't appear to be a safety issue. They might improve the ride, though. If I feel like paying shipping on an $8 order. Rrr.

Meanwhile you can buy decent recreational skates for $29.95 on at the moment, which is a good deal.
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So I released a big ol' piece of software today and realized a break was probably in order.

I haven't been out quad skating in months. But my wheels are totally gunked up. No trouble, I'll unbolt 'em and clean out the gunk and...

Lose half my goddam bearings. As in the individual little bastard ball bearings gone goodbye zoom.


That's what I get for working out on the patio where such things can truly escape.

There is a disturbing quantity of gunk, too. Getting it all outta there without losing any more bits and pieces is... a big project.

So much for skating today.

I'm going blind trying to figure out what I need in the way of replacement bearings on Fun, not so much. I think I need (and can readily afford) edit: two 8-packs of Bones Reds. And I'm pretty sure I know what to do with them once I have them. Pretty kinda.

But new, better skates would be nice. Uh, without the pom-poms option plskthnx.

Did you know it's easy to spend upwards of $200 on a nice pair of outdoor roller skates? Not that I'm going to do that. Would make an interesting takeoff on the Shoes song, though.
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There's a roller derby bout this weekend. However I have other highly worthy plans. And my favorite team isn't skating anyway (*).

So I was catching a bout in NYC instead on the 22nd. Whee, the Gotham Girls (glances up at the September page of his 2007 Gotham Girls calendar).

But those plans fell through — for most excellent and understandable reasons.

My own skate wheels aren't spinning freely. To fix that, I seem to need a socket wrench or at any rate a wrench of a diameter I haven't got. And I haven't had time to acquire such an object.

Last weekend, someone tried to steal my bike. And they couldn't. So they screwed with it, as much as they could, about $30 worth. And they trashed my Philly Roller Girls bumper sticker. Philistines.

I am thinking I should go skating at the Palace again, next Saturday. I wonder if I can scare up a posse.

(*) The Broad Street Butchers, of course. Although all four local teams are pretty awesome.

The Palace

Aug. 26th, 2007 01:20 am
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... Is awesome. I will definitely skate there again. Everything about it is a really good time. The lights, the music (80's on the funky side), the crowd. Mostly my generation or older, some younger adults too. If you're worried about being swamped by 18-year-old kids, stop worrying.

Mark took some pictures, which I'll post eventually.

My skates have taken a beating outdoors. I'm experiencing a lot of friction, I can't glide for beans. Next time I'll try renting and see if that's better. I might want to get an alternate set of wheels for indoors only. And generally speaking, learn some skate maintenance.

Not surprisingly there was a rollergirl on the rink, Cherry Bomber of the Penn-Jersey She-Devils. She was practicing whips and generally goofing around with an acquaintance who didn't wear a jersey but clearly knew her stuff too. Another She-Devil maybe? I'dve asked, but was concentrating on not getting run over by the roller dance guys. Straight outta roll bounce. A+++.

They are resurfacing soon, the classic hardwood floor will be even nicer. I'll be making the effort to get out there again some Saturday.
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The Palace Skating Center in Northeast Philly has adult-only public roller skating on Tuesday mornings. Donuts and coffee provided.

Now, seeing as it is nearly 20 miles from South Philly and all but inaccessible by transit, I won't be getting up there for a quick skate break on a Tuesday morning. Much more likely I'll finally get around to it some Wednesday or Saturday night.

And I don't even eat donuts, for the most part. Or drink coffee, ever.

But I gotta say, the combination of grownup munchies and quad skating is highly appealing. It's no wonder these guys are still open when so many roller rinks have gone the way of the... um, let's pick a new metaphor for once... the way of the VIC-20.

Edit: okay, okay, it's not "all but inaccessible" by public transit, it's served by multiple buses. It is, however, impractical by transit from here— a full hour each way, even if I cycle up to second and market first. Ow.

SEPTA just doesn't seem to be set up for express service between there and here, or even between there and Center City. By car it's only half an hour, door to door (via 95).
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Finally skated the Fairmount Park loop today. 8.7 miles on quad skates.

I wasn't feeling particularly energetic and it was hot out there. But... what the hell.

Usually there comes a point where my muscles stop grumbling and I realize how much fun it is and start kicking ass, speedwise. I never quite hit that stride today.

But I'll tell you what— a second bottle of water from that guy who's been selling goodies in front of the boathouses for 60 years? After an eight mile skate?

Might as well have been a glass of Chimay.
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A quick word on the subject of joy:

Certain episodes of my past have been crappy. And portions of my future will no doubt be crappy as well. But my life is going pretty damn well at the moment. And I'm going to write about that without excuse or apology.

I'm reminded of the non-shitty poet Charles Bukowski. Specifically his comments in The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship about shitty poets who pretend not to have day jobs. Thing is, hardly anybody can support themselves economically as a poet. So he asks how they do it.

They deny having some means of support. Soon enough he figures out it's their mother or their aunt or whoever who is paying the bills.

Did they do that because they were afraid to admit their poetry didn't generate a healthy income? I doubt it. It's pretty obvious that poets rarely make money. Poets are supposed to starve in garrets. And that was the real problem: they weren't suffering properly. And they were ashamed of it.

Bukowski wrote about this late in his own life, at a time when he was earning a decent living from his work and enjoying a certain level of comfort, stability and security.

Did he hide that fact, for fear of offending his struggling peers? Shit, no. He wrote about the small pleasures of his existence without apology. Because suffering is not news. Joy is news. Joy is an event.

Wallace Stevens, famously non-shitty poet, had no trouble understanding this either. He worked hard in business and became vice president of an insurance company. But this did not slow his art down any. On the contrary, it made it possible. He was his own damn sugar daddy. Good for him.

I have this much, at least, in common with non-crappy poets: I don't believe in the fetishization of suffering. If I make art about a miserable event, I do that because I must express something. Not because it's somehow more valid than art about a joyous event.

So if you're in the mood for schadenfreude I strongly suggest reading somebody else.

* * *

I've been meaning to skate the Fairmount Park Loop for a while.

This would have been the day for it. But yesterday, after I helped [ profile] lawbabeak with some packing and painting, she drove me back into town along Lincoln Drive. And I couldn't help noticing that portions of Forbidden Drive appeared to be freshly paved.

So this afternoon, I popped my skates in a backpack, popped myself on a bicycle and hopped the R5 to Wissahickon.

And how did that turn out for me? Not too shabby, and a little bit comic. Turns out only the connecting trail from Ridge Avenue to the beginning of Wissahickon Park proper is paved. That's a good mile or so of twisty, woodsy, hilly, recently asphalted trail, with only the occasional pedestrian or cyclist to maneuver around and not an inline skater to be seen. The hills are too much for them, the poor dears.

Good times, good times. Once you reach the park proper, though, you're looking at gravel. Which really isn't fun, even on quad skates. And I took a wrong turn anyway, rolling on through the guardhouse to Rittenhouse Town, half-walking on skates and vaguely hoping I'd see pavement again real soon.

Somewhere along the line I took a call from [ profile] tashamcgann. Which struck me funny: here I am in the middle of the woods (in the middle of the city) on a gravel road (in sight of a heavily trafficked road) yapping on my cell phone. I'm a character in Transmetropolitan.

I did in fact discover pavement: part way through Rittenhouse Town, the road does become paved, and then immediately charges uphill to Wissahickon Avenue.

Skating up that hill was easy enough. Skating down was another thing. That's a monster incline. And skates are not made for good control of speed on monster inclines. Sure, you can vee in, but only up to a point.

I had a bit of trouble controlling my speed and sat down by the side of the road to catch my breath and decide if this was such a hot idea. Eventually I realized:

1. The road would become gravel at the very base of the hill, pretty much guaranteeing road rash or worse
2. But: there was soft inviting grass on either side
3. I'm good at skating on fast-changing surfaces
4. There were enough people around to call 911 if necessary

So I took a go at it, and near the bottom I ran off most of my momentum in the grass. I did finally take a tumble, but I'm none the worse for wear, and it's surprising that I've avoided a spill this long.

The rest of the skate back was pretty awesome. Once I finally click in there's nothing better. And as I arrived back at the dam I noticed a woman about my age. She'd just returned from cycling the trail with her father. A belated Father's Day ride, I'm sure. They both looked healthy and happy.

I don't think of my father as an athlete. Apart from the year he took up running in a big way, finished marathons, and then dislocated his shoulder.

But seeing these two reminded me of our family's relentless visitation of all battlefields colonial. Of hikes in the hills (sorry, mom, they're hills) of Connecticut. Of popping bottles of Grolsch at the summit. Of exactly one trip to Mount Rainier with my father in all the years I lived in Seattle— that one, I have a picture of. And of our last walk.

My parents were visiting us here in Philadelphia, and we ordered pizza from Gianna's. Eight blocks away. Lorenzo's would have been more convenient, Gianna's had soy cheese and I just had to have it. I would have fetched it myself, but Dad wanted to come along. Needed to come along.

He was gasping on the way home, gasping and protesting that he was all right. And I think it was on that walk home that I finally understood he was dying. Not that it stopped him.

No, he wouldn't let me call a cab. He needed to finish that walk, and he was pretty sure he could get away with it. So he did.

Joy might look like something that happens to somebody else, someone who has an effortless lock on happiness. But it's not like that. Joy is hard work. It is something we create in spite of everything. It is the habit of a lifetime. The sooner learned, the better.

I'll be damned if I'll get out of the habit. Whatever the future brings.
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I wish I could go skating on Kelly Drive
Oh wait I can
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Eleanor and I hit the park earlier. At one point she hung up her helmet on her bike and just started running back and forth from one end of the tennis court to the other.

"I don't know, my body just wants me to run!"

I still get that feeling. Which is why I put on quad skates when I take my daughter to the park. Instead of reading on the bench. I hope she never loses that joyful connection to physically being alive. Adults tend to switch it off, at least outside of a certain context (cough). Sometimes even then.

I just got pseudospam from With a Father's Day coupon. And a come-on for the new quadline skates. Damn those look like fun.
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My hands are sore from a week and a half of jigsaw cuts without a vise. It didn't hurt at the time or I would've stopped obviously. I will buy a proper vise before I attempt the first floor.

Fortunately, there's NOTHING WRONG WITH MY LOWER HALF...

[Waits a beat]

So of course I went roller skating.

I dropped off my daughter at a sleepover party just two blocks from Kelly Drive, laced up on the front steps and zipped off. Kept right on zipping up to East Falls. Haven't skated past Laurel Hill Cemetery before, it's very meditative scenery. Not in an OMG GOTH way, just... peaceful.

Due to the floorathon I've been off skates for a week. So I didn't have to spend 20 minutes getting past the soreness, it felt good right off. Also I had a chance to patronize the cart of that guy who's been selling drinks on Kelly Drive for 800 years. Everybody should do that.

Hopped a train back to Market East and walked home on eighth... a warm thunderstorm starting in the last block or two. Aw yeah.

I'm still thinking karaoke if I can get myself organized.


May. 15th, 2007 11:58 pm
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Every now and then I google "men's roller derby." Just... y'know... in case. And every time I do this, there's one team in Massachussetts. I say "that's cool" and go back to being a not-quite-too-wacky fan of women's roller derby. Which, god knows, I always will be.

But tonight I hit that button one more time and came across the New York Shock Exchange and freakin' hell. I had an immediate "I WANT TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW" reaction. That logo makes me want to skate really fast and stop me if you can muddafuddas.

Turns out the Penn-Jersey She-Devils have a men's team.

Edited, August 2nd: I've heard from an actual member of said team. It's definitely real.

Also, previously I complained about the tone of their league web site. And I still don't think their characterization of the larger WFTDA league is particularly fair. However, I have been reminded that a certain level of trash talking is a natural part of any sport that involves knocking people down on purpose. In other words, I could stand to grow a thicker skin.

Still... I have a sport already, thank you. It takes up vast amounts of my limited nonparental time, I love it to death, it's much less dangerous, it involves beautiful women saying "thank you" at five-minute intervals. And roller derby and my mostly carless existence aren't very compatible.

Maybe I should just take up rugby if I'm so keen to have my ass kicked.
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It was just a quick skate. To the girard bridge. To the columbia bridge. To the foot of the strawberry mansion bridge oh who am I kidding?

I am not a skateaholic. I can stop any time I want. Or just slow down by turning my skates inward...


May. 2nd, 2007 10:00 am
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If I kick enough ass in the next two hours, I get to SKATE.

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