*Most Important Man In Skateboarding
MIMIS–He strolled into the IASC Hospitality Suite each morning of the show, poured himself some coffee, and prepared a bagel with cream cheese on one of those little black plastic plates. He lounged about for a few minutes, rolled through some pleasantries, and then humbly returned to his station on the floor.
Before he left on Sunday morning, he asked me, “How come no one else is having your free breakfast?”
“Oh, they drop by throughout the morning,” I said. “They make their way up here eventually.”
“Well, thanks, Jim,” he said as he walked around the Largest Skateboard in the World (LSITW). MIMIS didn’t know that the LSITW was soon to be involved in yet another front-page scandal.
Mike Taylor doesn’t see himself as the MIMIS, but I do. Mike’s life experience has had enough ups and downs and ins and outs that his own point of view isn’t tainted with any particularly glorious vision. He’s not trying to be important, he just is. He’s not trying to influence skateboarding, he just does. He’s not trying to win over those who don’t understand, but now they’re coming around anyway. That’s the power of the MIMIS–this young man, Mike Taylor. A husband, father–the MIMIS that he is.
The accomplishments of MIMIS over the past two years have been remarkable, and although limited–for now–to a 50-mile section of California’s central coast, their effects will be felt throughout skateboarding’s world for years to come. Ten years ago, Mike Taylor was in jail for skateboarding the streets of Santa Barbara. His exploits almost single-handedly rewrote the laws banning skateboarding from the city’s main drag. Skateboarders were reviled by city officials, property owners, and others. The judge looked over Taylor’s docket and glared as he said, “If I ever see you in here again, you’ll go away for 30 days!”
Today Mike has a city office not far from Santa Barbara City Hall. He is, in addition to his other duties within the skate community, a paid city employee directing the development and daily operations of Santa Barbara’s newly opened public skateboard facility.
MIMIS actually sits in his city office and has city-related conversations with other city employees. MIMIS met with city parks-and-rec folks last year and said, “There’s no point in building anything if skaters aren’t going to skate it. Whatever we design has to be developed by the skaters who are going to use it.” And then he got out his pencil and started drawing. Taylor and co-designer Gary Ellsworth’s ideas blended, and the park was on its way.
Because he is MIMIS, Taylor was able to bring something else to the show, too. Last year MIMIS worked late at night and on weekends to help design and build Skate Street skatepark in Ventura, 50 miles south of Santa Barbara. He was able to deliver the transition and embankment templates from Skate Street to Santa Barbara.
MIMIS’ work means that today, and tomorrow, skaters along this part of the swollen and water-logged shoreline can skate–private or public, indoor or outdoor. And by next year, a new 400,000-dollar, outdoor, public, concrete, beachside, destination skateboard park will be unveiled in Santa Barbara. This penny- pinching, tight-fisted, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) driven community is opening its coffers because the MIMIS was willing to persevere. From jailbird to city employee, he has taken skateboarding to a new level of appreciation and acceptability–he has tolerated the indignities flung his way a decade ago, and transformed a dis-believing assemblage of politicos into offering up hundreds of thousands of tax-paid dollars!
MIMIS’ coup d’état was the 25,000 dollars he raised for the city in three minutes by selling pieces of plywood. Not that the plywood was special, but by charging 500 dollars for display advertising painted on 50 four-by-eight sheets of plywood bolted to the chain-link fence around the temporary skatepark, he not only created a 400-foot-long “canvas” for a Mike Kreski mural painting, but offered the opportunity for local businesses to advertise their wares to skatepark users.
As more cities develop and build public skateparks, the MIMIS legend will grow. His story will be heard throughout the land: “Hey, he was in jail ten years ago for skating, and now his office is down the hall from the mayor! It says ‘Skatepark Supervisor’ right on the door, just like in the movies. It’s painted on the glass–you know, that glass that you can’t see through, and the letters are gold with a black outline … ‘Skatepark Supervisor!'”
Congratulations, Mike Taylor, you are the Most Important Man in Skateboarding!