ON LOVE In Philly
ON Video premieres LOVE Park documentary to those who understand it best.
By Brian Nugent
Philadelphia’s LOVE Park has come to be known as the world’s most famous street spot.
ON Video took notice and produced a documentary for its winter issue. At 35 minutes, it’s the longest single piece ON Video has ever done. It’s also the longest documentary minute-wise produced solely on the issue of LOVE Park and skateboarders.
With the help of the Skateboard Advocacy Network, the winter issue was premiered on November 22, 2003 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The premiere was free and followed up by a DC-sponsored afterparty at Tattooed Mom on South Street.
A head count was never made, but by show time the vast hall was full with only standing room available. The attendees ranged from professional skater Josh Kalis to former city planner (and creator of LOVE Park) Ed Bacon. With all the attention skateboarding has been receiving in the local media, skaters and non-skaters alike were eager to catch a glimpse of history.
Kirk Dianda, director of ON Video, has been credited with assembling the LOVE piece: “Honestly, it’s hard to sum up what it took to pull this together other than the obvious-about nine months of work-on and off,” says Dianda. “I started filming the interviews last fall, began gathering footage slowly over the next months, and just worked on researching and fine-tuning the story the entire time. The real behind-the-scenes credit goes to Miki (Vuckovich, ON Video Associate Producer) for all his help in lining up everything and writing the story on paper first through our transcripts. Then John Bradford and Ryan Marcus for doing all the graphics, and our Music Director Doug Thompson for giving us the sound of ON Video.
“Seriously though, the real credit goes to the skaters and the filmers,” adds Dianda.
Dianda and Vuckovich both had concerns with telling the story as it really happened. “The video is an incredibly personal story for those we interviewed,” says Vuckovich. “We were telling their story, so if we screwed it up, we ought to hear it from them. That’s probably the primary reason we had the premiere in Philly.”
Some of the oldest footage in the video was pulled from the legendary Sub Zero shop video. Sub Zero Owner Schane VonHartleben had a few comments: “It was super-positive-it makes me feel proud of everyone supporting LOVE, seeing it come this far. It makes me feel that there is hope and builds confidence to keep going. The only problem I saw was that they concentrated a little too much on a few people. It was possible to include at least two decades of footage from LOVE.”
Ricky Oyola has been called the Godfather of the Philadelphia skate scene. “The video pretty much skipped over a lot of the beginning years,” Oyola says. “Some old videos were Turn The Other Cheek and Quiet Storm. It saddens me that there was no mention of Roger Browne, because Roger was Philadelphia. There was no footage of Serge (Trudnowski). Matt Reason should have had so many more tricks.
“There should have been more of Damian Smith and Terrence Hill. Josh (Kalis) and Stevie (Williams) definitely killed it. We were all one crew at one time. The more that we grew into skating everything, the more they skated LOVE Park. They just didn’t skate through the streets,” says Oyola. “I don’t like the fact that they pinned it on us. About the video itself, overall it’s enjoyable. I enjoyed it.”
Liz Kerr lost her son to an automobile collision while he was skateboarding, and she started the Patrick Kerr Skateboard Scholarship in his memory. Kerr has always been an advocate for skateboarders at LOVE Park and had a few words about the documentary release: “LOVE is such a safe place for kids to go. Why would these elected officials push kids out into the street? It was an environment where teenagers could avoid drugs, alcoholism, racism, obesity, and isolation. LOVE Park is the perfect outlet for teenagers. My boys always said that LOVE was skate heaven.”
Kalis was satisfied with the issue. When asked what he feels will now happen to LOVE, he responds, “I have no idea. It was good that (Councilwoman) Jannie Blackwell was behind us at the LOVE rally. It’s straight-up a public park. I’ve been involved behind the scenes for a while. I talk to Scott Kip, and we try to work off each other. DC has plans to get involved and help pay for the ledges at LOVE if it opens.”
Ed Bacon thought the video was excellent. He presented his thoughts on skateboarding as a form of theory and evolution: “The reason that skateboarding is so abused in the national press is that it is a psychological liberation from what people consider the norm. Practically all the recreation that children have are adult games, controlled by adults. The amazing thing about skateboarding is that it does not require a preset environment. It sees the environment as an opportunity for exploration and stimulation. That is very disturbing to the stuffy present-day leaders. Evolution will prevail, and skateboarding will dominate the scene.”
The video closed with an introduction to the local skateboarders’ activism to legalize LOVE Park. Scott Kip of the Skateboard Advocacy Network was featured speaking at a rally held at City Hall in October. Each video will be packaged with a postcard describing the Skateboard Advocacy Network and requesting donations in exchange for a LOVE Park T-shirt.
“Someday LOVE will come back, maybe after Mayor Street is out of office,” said Liz Kerr.
ON Video Winter 2003 best trick list according to Ricky Oyola:
Chris Cole-backside flip into the fountain.
Stevie Williams-switch backside flip on flat ground.
Anthony Pappalardo-started the “get your hard shit done” down the fountain.
Tim O’Connor’s line-seriously the best line.
Fred Gall’s gap-to-rail-the gangliest thing ever done at LOVE Park.