Movin’ On Up to the Westside

Click clack mutha fucker get back. Wallie nosegrab. Murdock in a thuggy tank t. Photo: Sam Milianta

Every time I turn left when I leave my driveway, I head west. I know turning a different direction in the morning doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. Out west, there are vast unexplored areas, consisting of acres and acres of land that have only been tread upon by the likes of indigenous Native American tribes and buffalo.

The rush for westward expansion is alive and well in the Salt Lake Valley. Cheap land is available by the acres. You could think of places like West Valley, Rose Park, Kearns, West Jordan, Riverton and Herriman as the Louisiana Purchase: big, fertile land just waiting to be exploited by some rich white man.

The exploitation of land, however, has an unexpected side effect. This side effect is advantageous for a skateboarder. This kind of expansion leads to a boom in building. Strip malls, convention centers, manufacturing plants, schools, and the like all provide a variety of skateable terrain. A lot of this stuff has been here for years, but surprisingly is mostly untouched by urethane. It is amazing to take a drive through the strip-mall-infested streets of the western Salt Lake valley and see all the random concrete banks, railings, ledges and gaps. Call me a pioneer if you will, but I really don’t deserve it. I’m just taking care of my responsibility as a skateboarder by making sure there are spots for the next generation.

The first trip out west, for example, was a very strange one. A wrong turn led Mike Murdock, Mike Hays, and myself through the winding neighborhood streets of Kearns. No strip malls, no factories, just people’s suburban homes. The suburbs have been known to provide stuff to skate in the past, such as fire hydrants and schools, but we experienced none of this, at least at first. Thanks to Murdock and his amazing eye for the obscure, we were able to find spots that were blocks away down side streets off nearly every block. After a few minutes of driving, however, we discovered an amazing cement bank just outside of an apartment complex. This spot got skated for a bit and then we decided to move on, trying to find the main road again.

Every block we drove would be followed by a “Hey, turn around, there’s something down that street.” At one stop, we found a perfect bank to wall. To make things even better, it had a channel gap in the middle of the bank. The only problem was it was in someone’s driveway. We decided to give it a go anyway. After skating for a few minutes, two thugged-out dudes came out of the house to get in their car. My old roommate was from Kearns and had told me horror stories of getting jumped by gangbangers for often no reason at all. However, skateboarding sometimes gives you access to places you would never be welcome otherwise, and these guys gave us the nod of approval, watched us skate for a minute and then got in their car and left us to our intentions.

A few more trips to the west side followed over the next few weeks. The first trip was the spark that started the fire. Lots of areas got explored and there’s still a lot more out there. I still haven’t checked out Copperton, Magna, Tooele, or that whole area by the airport. But the summer is young and my friends and I are now pioneers. Pulling out handcarts (i.e. skateboards), we travel forever west in search of freedom from “religious” persecution and cheap farmland.

Click clack mutha fucker get back. Wallie nosegrab. Murdock in a thuggy tank t. Photo: Sam Milianta On the west side you never know when you are going to be running from the cops. So its always good to practice jumping fences and riding walls. Mike Murdock. Photo: Sam Milianta Bang Bang! Mike Hayes popped and stomped this nollie backside flip so lound it sounded like gun shots. Photo: Sam Milianta This is how Murdock does the Crip walk. Photo: Sam Milianta