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No Skate Park for Old Men

A growing line of cars has taken up position behind me. I’m unconcerned by their presence. The cars wait patiently for a chance to slide by on their way to the pier or wherever it is they’re headed tonight. I guess they’re tourists because locals would simply zip past me without a second thought. Out-of-towners tend to be more cautious. I’m navigating the bike lane on Seacoast Boulevard whilst listening to The Kinks and in-general not paying much attention to traffic. I am an Ape Man and traffic does not concern me. I am too busy watching the Pacific burn under the heat of our setting Sun. If the world feels like it’s sliding by me on a track that’s because it is. I’m perched atop a skateboard, which just a few short weeks ago would have seemed highly unlikely. So, perhaps I should explain how I came to occupy the bike lane without a bike.

Fifteen-year old me would be happy

Skateboarding began it’s ubiquitous cultural journey more than sixty years ago in the surf towns of Southern California. Imperial Beach is one such surf town and living in here had me reminiscing about the Bones Brigade days of my youth. “Adult skateboarding” is not viable in the northeast US for a multitude of reasons, so it’s been a mere twenty-five plus years since I’ve ridden a board. Caught up in the magic that is IB, I asked myself a question: If you could be skateboarding, then why aren’t you skateboarding? Who would prefer to walk?!   I was developing an eye for the cushy long boards often ridden by happy looking people with a dog on a leash nearby. I wanted to count myself among them but picking up a skateboard after so long seemed like a non-adulty idea in my adulty-conditioned brain. That changed when Wyatt said he wanted to skate. Liz & I have always tried to encourage the kids with any sport they show an interest in learning. Skating with Wyatt would help get him out of the house and give us a chance to spend time together. I thought I was taking one for the team when I bought that sweet long board in the Surf Hut window (actually it was in a pile in the back room), but I was really doing myself the favor.

Picking up any sport after a long absence requires some amount of re-tuning. For me, this process was lengthy, painful and quite revealing. Wyatt knew that I skated when I was a kid so of course he expected me to step right back in to it with ease. I succumbed to the dad-pressure and began trying to find my balance again. This is a good time to point out the obvious: re-learning to skateboard at forty-two means being in constant fear you will end up explaining how you fell to an emergency room nurse who’s setting your broken arm. It turns out that 28 years was enough time for me to become terrified of falling down. That fear got in my head. Nevertheless, I was unwilling to accept that I could no longer do what I once was able to do many years ago. We have good health insurance and dad-pressure is real, so away we go.

In search of smooth pavement

My confidence was slowly coming back when Wyatt asked me to take him to the skate park one afternoon. The trip would involve a ten block ride across town. I crossed my fingers and we took to the streets. After a few early yips, I was quickly reminded of how great it feels to glide down a road on new bearings and smooth pavement. It was even better when I looked over to see Wyatt keeping pace while doing tricks on the curbs. Fifteen-year old me would be very happy seeing how things worked out.

I was hooked by the time we skated back from the park that afternoon. Lately I’ve been happy to get home from work with a sliver of daylight left so I can ride down to the beach and back. Doesn’t matter if the boy is with me or not. I set out for the pier on one such recent evening with a carefully curated playlist in my pocket. James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet…really cliche skate music I know, but it was a sunset ride. I was stopped on my board about a block or two from the pier (playing Pokemon Go) when I noticed a sheriff’s vehicle stopped in the road. A sheriff emerged from the cruiser and asked me if I was “Greg”. (I am not) I responded accordingly and she reluctantly accepted my answer.

I can’t remember the last time I was approached by the local constabulary, so the exchange was a little weird for me. I skated another block towards the pier and then saw the sheriff pulling over. She stepped out and motioned for me to stop, which I didi. I’m starting to get a bit nervous when she tells me that I match the description of a person she’s looking for. She asked me for ID and in that moment I was provided with a good example of privilege. I wasn’t carrying ID, because why would I need ID to cruise up and down Seacoast in IB? I’m guessing if I wasn’t a middle-aged white guy, that alone might have been enough to put me in the cruiser. Instead, I tried to prove I wasn’t “Greg” by showing her my work email, because who would lie about working at a bank? She still insisted on confirming I didn’t physically match “Greg’s” description, which she revealed to me was, “white guy on a skateboard.” I’m thinking she’s going to have a busy night.

My magic carpet ride

Eventually the sheriff, who was quite nice I should mention, let me go on my way. Apparently I didn’t match the description and I was sent along with a sincere, “Thank you.” My insistence that I was just a boring, middle-aged guy acting like a fifteen year old on a skateboard may have helped my case. “Greg” remains at-large.

What started out as semi-selfish attempt on my part to spend more time with my kids became something that reminded me of something I had forgotten. Wyatt & I skate together every week, usually back and forth to the skate park so he can engage in the tribal rituals with his friends. That frees me up to cruise around town in search of those choice side streets where the pavement is as smooth as glass. (I’m talking about you Elm *smug look*) I’m still living in a persistent state of fear that I’m one pebble away from a faceplant, but I’m glad I’m not letting that stop me. Even with the police breathing down my neck, I’m still out there getting it done and repping middle-aged guys everywhere.

MPH Podcast S2E6 – Singularity

The crew returns after a brief hiatus and the discussion topics are wide-ranging. Our hosts lament winter in San Diego as they discuss the new Netflix series The Umbrella Academy and the cult video game hit Undertale. We’re also treated to live Daytona 500 commentary from Pop.

Show Notes:

  1. Cover art credit: @mphpoparella
  2. The Umbrella Academy source

MPH Podcast S2E5 – Are Kitchen Tables Old?

In this episode, Liz explains why millennials have ruined the bar scene on the night before Thanksgiving.  Pop drops in for a few minutes as well to tell us she’s bored with dropping in.  Happy Thanksmas!!

Show Notes:

  1. “The Poddys” from SNL
  2. Sea 180, scene of our now infamous and spectacular Thanksgiving dinner

MPH Podcast S2E4 – Thank You Arnold Palmer

Liz & Jay discuss the MPH crew’s recent trip to Palm Desert, 17 years of wedded bliss and the Pete Davidson / Ariana Grande wedding that never was.  In other news, the Arnold Palmer is now the official drink of the MPH podcast.  The Sparkling Catdog  has been dethroned!

FYI – The sound is a little funky in this episode, possibly because I accidentally hit a bunch of knobs on the soundboard.  My bad.

Show notes & links:

  1. Ariana Grande donut story
  2. “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop
  3. Columbine by Dave Cullen
  4. Up and Vanished podcast
  5. Serial podcast
  6. Crimetown podcast

It’s Been a Year

We’ve reached the one year anniversary of the Mousepad Heroes podcast.  Our first episode  was released on January 8th, 2017 and my initial plan for the podcast was immediately torpedoed by a bad winter cold.  I love the podcast medium that’s what led us to create Mousepad Heroes.  My original vision for the show was a generational gaming & pop culture forum.  Poparella and I would discuss our online adventures, the latest in pop culture and provide the audience with a compelling contrast of the two perspectives.  The vision seemed viable but we went off the rails from the start.

On the weekend we were set to record our first episode, Poparella fell ill with a pretty serious cold.  I had spent a couple of months learning, gathering equipment and preparing to podcast.  Like a proper man child, I was despondent when my plan to test out my new toys was upended by the flu.  Liz offered to sit-in with me so I could at least test out the production process.  What happened next became history in northeastern Pennsylvania podcasting lore.  We had so much fun recording together, we decided we’d put the generational gaming & pop culture show on the side burner and take a Seinfeldian leap in to a show about nothing.  Poparella made frequent appearances throughout the year, but Liz turned out to be a much more reliable host.  We went looking for our voice and it proved to be quite enjoyable for us along the way.

We put the show on hiatus for most of December while we kicked-it Christmas-style and took a break from what was a colonoscopy of a year.  The hiatus gave us some time to reflect and we’ve decided to take another shot at using an actual format for the show.  Our rambling musings are entertaining and therapeutic for us but they don’t exactly translate to a broad audience.  We set out to make something compelling, we know we can do better, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Liz, Poparella, Wyatt and I are working on the new show format and content.  We’ve got some pretty crazy stuff planned for 2018 and we’re looking forward to the ride.  Episode 24 will drop in the next few weeks.  In the meantime you can get caught up on the back catalog right here or on iTunes, Google or wherever you download podcasts.  Thank you for the support in 2017 and cheers to a giggity 2018.

MPH Podcast EP #23 – Revelations

Poparella joins Jay & Liz in this episode as Liz reveals a clever ruse perpetrated by Poparella and comes clean about her own recent shenanigans during a mom’s night out trip with friends.  Poparella schools us on her obsession with The Sims and as always we talk a little TV.

Show Notes:

  1. The Turbie Twist as mentioned in Poparella’s ruse
  2. You can follow Poparella on Twitter and check out her many hours of Sims videos on her YouTube channel
  3. Correction: Riverdale is on the CW and not the WB, which may have become the CW but whatever