Rent-a-cops have run skateboarders, bicyclists and Rollerbladers out of every parking lot, school ground and parking garage there is. The suburban streets and strip malls no longer welcome the bored suburban kids on wheels, giving them the sort of disdain usually reserved for the angered youths who spray-paint a vulgarity on the side of a 7-Eleven.
The suburbs spawned, necessitated and cultivated these pastimes. Kind of like chocolate and peanut butter, bikes and dirt were just waiting for someone to put them together. And developing neighborhoods with the mounds of freshly upturned soil provide the perfect venue. Skateboarding came from the desire to surf where there were no waves, a lark that became legitimized. It's no wonder now that concrete is much easier to come by than surf. Rollerblades, the clever combo of ice skates and roller skates, are relative latecomers, but because they wear like a second shoe, they make the tricks and jumps--often inspired by skateboarders--as easy and natural as playing hopscotch.
So despite all the "No Skateboarding, Bikes or Rollerblades" signs, the war against wheels was doomed to fail. Unable to stop it, the solution was to confine it, make it safe and sanction it. Thus the skate park was born. And what started out as something akin to guerrilla warfare now has a home base of operations.
GPX Skate Park and Entertainment Center in Grand Prairie is the most recent addition to the network. Welcome to the postmodern Metromess, where a new skate park--home of hell on wheels, punk style and energy drinks--shares turf with Lone Star Park, which houses horse racing, the most regal and royal of sports, and features country-and-western cover bands along with beer specials.
Just months after opening, GPX is hosting the X Trials, an open competition that includes both street-style and vertical skateboarding, in-line skating and flatland and vert bicycle stunt riding. The X Trials will be held Friday through Sunday and will air in mid-June on ESPN's popular X Games. Xperience, "an interactive village provided for spectators of all ages to test their skills in sport climbing, bungee jumping and skating," offers further entertainment for visitors, with or without wheels. The X Trials opens Thursday with the GPX Action Sports Charity Jam, which includes demonstrations by many pros, including BMX rider Dave Mirra, skateboarder Colin McKay and in-line skaters Fabiola da Silva and Shawn Robertson and a performance by the band Diffuser.
Though the graffiti is now replaced by sponsors' product placement, banners and stickers, and the "street course" is simulated with plywood ramps, even the must-wear-helmet-and-pads rule won't offer protection against an aborted back flip on a bicycle or a stray skateboard in the groin. The scabs will ensure the athletes' ties to the street and, despite the "X" marketing, the games still maintain an edge in the middle of the mainstream.